Revisiting Moral Panics: A Critical Examination of 21st Century Social Issues and Anxieties

ESRC-funded research seminar series, 1st October 2012 – 31st October 2014, ES/J021725/1

Aims, objectives and plans

The overall aim was to examine some 21st century social issues and anxieties through the concept of moral panic, first brought to public attention 40 years ago in Cohen’s influential study, Folk Devils and Moral Panics. The series had three broad objectives:

  • knowledge creation and capacity building
  • knowledge exchange and collaborations
  • dissemination

The series was delivered as a cross-UK, inter-disciplinary project. Although the original idea emerged from within Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, eight other disciplines contributed to the organising committee and the events. These included: Social Anthropology, Sociology, History, Law, Divinity, Education, Psychology and Social Policy, at the Universities of Edinburgh, Bath, Queen’s Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow Caledonian. Practitioners from social work and voluntary agencies and government as well as representatives from user and carer groups attended the seminars. Postgraduate students and early career researchers were funded to give papers, and also contributed to the publications.

The initial plan was for an 18 month project involving three ‘mini-conferences’ with time set aside at each event for lectures, papers, a panel, networking and discussion. The series was extended to two years with four seminars, in response to its overall success.

The seminars

Seminars were held in November 2012 in Edinburgh; May 2013 in Bath; November 2013 in Cardiff and Glasgow 2014 in Glasgow, and attended by around 200 people in total.

Seminar 1 (Edinburgh): two international keynote speakers (from US and Israel) and two from England addressed the audience of 70 participants in the morning; 9 researchers gave papers in the afternoon.

Seminar 2 (Bath): two keynote speakers from England and one from Scotland addressed the audience of 30 participants in the morning; 7 researchers gave papers in the afternoon.

Seminar 3 (Cardiff): one keynote speaker from Wales and two from England addressed the audience of 43 participants in the morning; 12 researchers gave papers in the afternoon.

Seminar 4 (Glasgow): two keynote speakers from England and one from Scotland addressed the audience of 50 participants in the morning; 12 researchers gave papers in the afternoon.

Outputs

The series has had extensive outputs through various media, including peer-reviewed journal articles, a book series due Spring 2015, a book and book chapters, podcasts, blogs and newspaper articles. The series has also had a lively presence on social media, especially on Twitter, led by the PI (@VivCree).