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Moral panics as decivilizing processes: Towards an Eliasian approach

By A Rohloff


Applying the ideas of Norbert Elias to the sociology of moral panics, this article argues that moral panics are processes of decivilization; occurring where civilizing processes break down and decivilizing trends become dominant. Examining the definitions of Goode & Ben-Yehuda (1994) and Stanley Cohen (2002), the article compares key characteristics of moral panics with some of the symptoms of decivilizing processes as proposed by Stephen Mennell (1990). Proposing two different types of campaigns that may accompany panics – integrative campaigns to ‘civilize’ the ‘other’; and exclusionary campaigns to isolate the ‘dangerous’ other – the article concludes by outlining how some of the fundamental concepts of figurational sociology can aid in our understanding of the complexities of moral panics

Publisher: Massey University
Year: 2008
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