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Crime and the Media

4. Moral Panics

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In this module, we think about moral panics, focusing particularly on: (i) Stanley Cohen’s pioneering work on moral panics, when and why they occur, and the role of the media in instigating them; (ii) Stuart Hall’s work on the moral panic around mugging in 1970s, which looked at Cohen’s framework through the lens of Marxist media theory; (iii) some problems with the concept of moral panics, including definitional issues and its neglect of audience agency; (iv) recent social changes which challenge Cohen and Hall’s ideas, including the fragmentation of the media landscape and the diversification of society.


In this course, Dr Francesca Menichelli (University of Surrey) explores the relationship between crime and the media. In the first module, we think about depictions of crime in news media and the factors that shape which incidents of crime are selected to appear in the news. In the second, we look at crime fiction, its influence on how people think about crime, and how it is studied by scholars. In the third module, we consider research into media effects and the notion that the media can cause crime, before turning in the fourth module to moral panics. In the final module, we think about media representations of victims and offenders and how these are informed by factors such as ethnicity, gender and class.


Dr Francesca Menichelli is Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey. Her research focuses on crime prevention, policing and social control, and her teaching covers a broad range of criminological issues. She is author of Order and Conflict in Public Space (2016).

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APA style

Menichelli, F. (2021, August 23). Crime and the Media - Moral Panics [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Menichelli, F. "Crime and the Media – Moral Panics." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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