Regulation & Moral Panics

This week we explored regulation and moral panics. We discussed how the BBC was regulated to provide for a mass audience and that it’s self-regulated by the BBC Trust as it is a public service broadcasting station. Whereas, commercial radio is regulated by Ofcom, these regulations prevent monopolies. “Gatekeeper” refers to a set of people who have power over what the public hear/see in the media. Regulation plays a part in the moral panics that arise within society.

The set reading by Thornton, S. (1994) addresses moral panic, focusing on British rave culture and the regulations that occurred in response to moral panic. Another reading by Cohen, S. (2011) explores the deviance side in more depth about moral panic and the mass media.

The term “underground”, is a group of individuals who refer to their music taste/style as being against the mass media, academics refer to it as, “subculture” (Thornton, S. 1994). Thornton explores the ways that this particular underground audience is reached through micro-media, niche media and mass media and how it is responded to in terms of creating a moral panic. Micro-media (flyers etc.) was the main form of gaining an audience, but this particular case of the ‘rave scene’, the uproar the mass media created by shining a negative light on underground and banning songs (e.g. ‘acid house’ being labelled as a genre and having drug connotations) created a form of moral panic amongst the public. This led to more publicity for the scene. The moral panic could have been created by the mass media leading to the control it had over things such as radio plays. However the idea that deviance leads to this type of control is not as relevant, in fact, the control leads to deviance (Cohen, S 2011).

“The main currency of the underground might be called ‘subcultural capital’”, can be in relation to the image, these individuals are cool and they want people to see it but don’t necessarily want them to join in. This relates back to the types of media, the reasoning as to why they seek the bad press from mass media but target their type of following through more micro/niche media.

An interesting way to research moral panics today, could be done through virtual ethnography. Social media is a large part of daily life, so finding out what people are saying, sharing, doing through this platform could account for a new insight into how moral panics occur.


Cohen, S. (2011). Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. Abingdon: Routledge. pp.(1-20).

Thornton, S. (1994). ‘Moral Panic, The Media & British Rave Culture’. In: Andrew Ross & Tricia Rose (ed), Microphone Fiends, Youth Music & Youth Culture. 1st ed. London: Routledge. pp.(176-192).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s