The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.
Show Summary Details


moral panic

Quick Reference

A mass movement based on the false or exaggerated perception that some cultural behaviour or group of people is dangerously deviant and poses a threat to society's values and interests. Moral panics are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues. The phenomenon was first described in 1972 in relation to the ‘Mods & Rockers’ groups of the 1960s. Since then moral panics have occurred in relation to ‘ritual satanic abuse’, that was perceived to be widespread in the 1980s, and paedophilia, which led to vigilante action against innocent people.

Reference entries

View all reference entries »