The media have always played a central role in organising the way ideas flow through societies. But what happens when those ideas are disruptive to normal social relations? Bringing together work by scholars in history, media and cultural studies and sociology, this collection explores this role in more depth and with more attention paid to the complexities behind conventional analyses. Attention is paid to morality and regulation; empire and film; the role of women; authoritarianism; wartime and fears of treachery; and fears of cultural contamination.
The book begins with essays that contextualise the theoretical and historiographical issues of the relationship between social fears, moral panics and the media. The second section provides case studies which illustrate the ways in which the media has participated in, or been seen as the source of, the creation of threats to society. Finally, the third section then shows how historical research calls into question simple assumptions about the relationship between the media and social disruption.
Foreword Martin Barker Introduction Siân Nicholas and Tom O’Malley Part I: Approaches to the Media, Moral Panics and Social Fears 1. Model Answers: Moral Panics and Media History Chas Critcher 2. Moral Panics, Emotion and Newspaper History Kevin Williams 3. The Wertham Case: Evaluating Effects on Media Theories Janet Staiger Part II: The media as an object of fear 4. ‘I Will Answer You, My Friend, but I am Afraid’: Telephones and the Fear of a New Medium in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Italy Gabriele Balbi 5. The Dreadful World of Edwardian Wireless David Hendy 6. Cinema, Social Fears and Moral Panics in Britain’s Tropical Empire James Burns 7. The Response to Television in the UK 1947-77: A Study in the Media and Social Fear Tom O’Malley Part III: Panics, fear and the media 8. Unmarried: Unmarried Motherhood in Post-First World War British Film Eve Colpus 9. Watching the Detectives (and the Constables): Fearing the Police in 1920s Britain John Carter Wood 10. Fifth Columnists, Collaborators and Black Marketeers: Fearing the ‘Enemy Within’ in the Wartime British Media Siân Nicholas 11. Citizenship, Sexual Anxiety and Womanhood in Second World War Britain: the Case of the Man with the Cleft Chin Matthew Grant 12. ‘Enemy Television’: Fear as a Motive Force in East German Television Programming Claudia Dittmar 13. ‘The Ugly Tide of Today’s Teenage Violence’: Revisiting the Clockwork Orange Controversy in the UK Peter Krämer
"Siân Nicholas and Tom O’Malley have edited a worthy collection of essays that define and illustrate the useful theoretical construct of moral panic... What sets this particular collection apart from contemporary applications of theory is its emphasis on past media behavior and how it effected social change, revealing that (news) media can be placed “firmly at the centre of historical accounts” of social change and can be directed in certain ways. The book’s three parts and thirteen chapters neatly delineate theoretical definitions from their application.... All of the works presented here are useful, and media scholars would do well to pay attention to them."
- Brian Gabrial, Concordia University, Canada in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly