The construction of the sexual offender in the media and moral panics

Walsh, Laura (2012) The construction of the sexual offender in the media and moral panics. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation is a discussion of the media’s influence on public opinion surrounding sexual offending, and how this results in the stimulation of moral panics. This study applies Stanley Cohen’s framework of a moral panic to the 'News of the World newspaper’s' ‘name and shame’ campaign of 2000, which aimed to expose the identities and whereabouts of convicted sex offenders. It is argued here that the media exaggerated and distorted ‘facts’ to create a stereotypical view of the sex offender, thus building support for a controversial campaign. This study explores René Girard’s ‘scapegoat mechanism’ which is a result of ‘mimetic’ or imitative desire. When society is plagued with despondency, the scapegoat is created in order to unite communities in the action of expelling the perceived problem in order to restore a sense of calm. This dissertation concludes that the sexual offender was constructed as a scapegoat as a result of the moral panic that followed the 'News of the World’s' ‘name and shame’ campaign.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2014 16:29
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:32
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/14093

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