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Title: Risk and panics : national newspaper coverage of the cases of the contraceptive pill, drug facilitated sexual assault, dangerous dogs and road rage in the United Kingdom
Author: Jewel, Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Some high-profile media stories called panics appear to result in various changes - legislative and behavioural. The word panic here refers both to the emotive quality of the story as event and to the behaviour that it is assumed to trigger. Conceptually, panics can tie related to moral panics, first described analytically by Cohen (1972) and elaborated by Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994). The moral panic concept has been critiqued extensively and there have been attempts to integrate it with recent theoretical work on risk. Some of the media stories with the most extensive coverage appear to have caused little impact, as measured using alternative sources. How can this paradox be explained? The present work is a comparative study using content analysis of the presentation of four panics in the United Kingdom national press (1989-2007): the contraceptive pill scare of 1995, drug facilitated sexual assault, dangerous dogs, and road rage. In each case, the media presentation is contrasted with an alternative construction obtained using official statistics, interviews, reports and academic studies. The analysis leads to four main conclusions. The first describes the limitations of assumption of the effects of media coverage, and the importance of checking media conclusions about effects using other sources. The second is that the results of panics depend not only on their media depiction but on their underlying nature. I Third, localized risks are integral to understanding the emergence, depiction and effects oft panics. Finally, existing models of panics are inadequate for dealing with longer-term perspectives and processes of moralization.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available