Are the Concepts of Folk Devils and Moral Panic Still Useful for Criminology Today? Illustrate Your Response Drawing on Recent Examples.

Are the concepts of folk devils and moral panic still useful for criminology today? Illustrate your response drawing on recent examples.

Ideas of folk devils and moral panic have been useful ways for criminologists to explain the phenomena and reasoning behind the occurrence of certain crimes, such as abuse, hate-crimes and stigma. This essay will look at how these concepts developed, defining them in their sociological and criminological context, the role the media has played in the development of such ideas in the minds of the people, and the result, focusing on the stigma and persecution associated with examples of our modern day moral panics connected with asylum seekers, and the devil icon made of the paedophile.

The term ‘devil icon’ may suggest a number of things, but in criminological perspective, the term is generally applied to an individual, whether person, group or culture, that may be perceived to cause harm to society, and whose apparent danger in a modern context is flamed up by the media to evoke fear and panic with in a population. The term itself may conjure up images of devilry and witchcraft, from which the term may have originated, and indeed, witchcraft may be considered an early example of this phenomena occurring in society.

The term ‘moral panic’ may be seen as the resulting spread of fear within a population, fanned by exploitation from the media.   Usually, someone seen as a ‘moral guardian’ will speak out against events they find disturbing or harmful in society, highlighting them through media channels. Often, seemingly insignificant events, once caught in the media attention, can fan such a response. This stage of fear can then lead to action against the apparent cause to society’s problems, or ‘devil icon’, and it is this can help us explain a number of hate related crimes.

These topics questions of immorality within society; what is considered socially acceptable and who are the judges? For example, the taking of drugs...