Good Example Of Essay On Moral-Panic And Subcultures: Redefining Deviations

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Teenagers, Youth, Culture, Sociology, Subculture, Ethics, Morality, Society

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/30

Normative public behavior of the youth is influenced by the laws of the land and the conceptual values of traditions to a great extent. The participation of the young generation in the formation of civilized societies stands on the pillars of the standardized patterns of behavior. These abstract pillars collectively design a moral platform for the communities to practice their own cultures and transfer their values to the next generations. The choice among the youth for a separate view about the existing traditions creates a number of subcultures in which they design and practice their own order of social behavior. The collective derivative values of the individual behaviors of the youth in these subcultures create concerns among the societies about the existence of the traditional order. Undoubtedly, the changes in the social life patterns have significant relationship with races, classes, genders and indigenous statuses of the followers of these subcultures. Since the young generation is more vulnerable to the growing fascination of the subcultures, their new tendencies create a moral-panic among the societies. This paper will investigate the structure of the youth subcultures and how the young generation negotiates the social agencies and identities in their daily life. This will also argue that the spread of subcultures has an alarming effect on the socio-cultural balance of the civic societies across the world.

Social Concerns and Moral Panic

The collective deviations of the youth from a society’s cultural norms, and the subsequent formations of new ideals of cultural practices create an impacting effect on the societies with regards to their existence. Bennett argued that (as cited in Shildrick, 2006, p. 63) the concept of ‘lifestyles’ might be a more suitable tool in studying the ‘complex youth identities and affiliations that characterize the contemporary youth experience’. The strength for the prospective growth of the society depends upon the quality and potency of the young generation. However, the increasing cases of cultural divergences jointly create subcultures in massive numbers, which make the source of moral panic among the people. The identification of social segmentations of the young generation has long been a matter of concern for the cultural societies in the history of sociology. The presumption of the developmental attitudes of the members of the subcultures long existed in the English culture. According to Johansson (2000), “the most significant characteristic of a moral panic is that it tends to distort and grossly exaggerate the seriousness and importance of certain events.” (p. 22). Even though a particular year of the commencement of the cultural diversion trend does not exists, the subculture tendencies generally originated with the deviant behaviors exhibited by the young people against social institutions in the western world.
In the views of Johansson (2000), the development of moral panics has a categorical relationship with the intervention of media in making the exaggeration of independent and individual issues of cultural deviations, which resultantly attract the attention of likeminded youngsters in large numbers (Johansson, 2000, p.22). Also, the detachment of people from the social concerns of the young generation’s apparent deviations and the associated classified views create the reason for such moral panics. The concept of moral panic reveals the societal fears about the threats heading towards the standardized beliefs about the development of children and young people as the integral parts of the society. Normatively, societies are the advocates of the cultures that guarantee the wellbeing of the people through approvable moral conduct and their individual health. The degradation of morality leads to the building of an unhealthy society. Such a divergent society creates the platform for the individuals to involve in criminality due to the absence of self-checks that they can otherwise obtain from their adherence to the existing cultural standards.
Even though the sources of moral panic may differ according to changing circumstances, they all have a similar impact on the society from the intensity of the long term outcome. Media and popular culture play a vital role in the immediate outbreak of moral panics resulting from the hype they make about independent incidents of cultural concerns. Similarly, the aspect of modernization across the societies has a more prominent role in the commercialization and popularization of the panicking concerns. The process of modernization has a long and notable position in the sociological history of many societies with regards to the differences in the collective identities of the people based on their class or race etc. According to an assumption, the suppressive behavior of the upper class adult societies and their attempt to control the lower income groups drew symbolic reactions in the form of popular culture that created visible deviation of the middle class and working class people from the mainstream cultural practices which signaled the emergence of moral-panics among the upper class (Johansson, 2000, pp.24,25).

Subcultures through Transition

The aspect of social isolation results from the social identity conflicts experienced by the young people during the course of their exposure to schooling and peer activities. In order to counterbalance the mounting social concerns with regard to subcultures, the young minds tend to negotiate multiple remedial means in their daily life. In other words, they form strategies to overcome the challenges by making their own ways around. They may perceive all obstructions as their advantage and defy the authorities or disobey the elders. They may also identify their potential as active agents to overcome all impediments they confront or to negotiate with the group in which they involve. This kind of development can lead to the collective breaking of orthodoxies and opening new pathways for the accomplishment of their own meditated patterns of self-actualization methods. The process of this cultural transition makes the youth to rethink and design revolutionary practices to mock at the existing larger cultures. According to an observation by Ventegodt and Merrick (2014), the importance of quality self-image based on the perceived social identity of individuals reflects in their success in the quest for the requirement of physical, psychological and emotional energy related to their personal and social life (Ventegodt & Merrick, 2014, p. 199). The literature on the role of social identity in the formation of cultural segmentations emphasizes the need for quality self-esteem to build a strong personality. Such a personality can eventually overcome the social challenges of the individuals and design their psychological and emotional pattern of response to the social expectations. Usually, these expectations are based on their economic status, family circumstances and the consciences they make from the experience with their peer groups and other social exposures. The increased balance of self-esteem benefits the people in a number of ways. However, the proportion of low self-esteem coupled with social and sexual identity conflicts can adversely affect the individuals’ performance at several required fields of psychological, emotional, physical and sexual activities, and the eventual depression can lead them to issues like substance abuse and suicides (Ventegodt & Merrick, pp.204-205).

Causes for Concern

The emergence of subcultures through the development of divergent thoughts categorically supported by the popular culture in the mid-twentieth century made considerable changes in the social perspectives of the young generation. The influence of social circumstances and economic pressures from the cultural aspects collectively changed the moral values of the young people of the communities across America and Europe. The social tolerance of a cultural change of the people has varying effects of its concerns in different societies. As Stratton (1985) states, the rapidly spreading popularity of the subcultures like the punks and teddy boys in America appeared weird in the British context, and the societies feared that they brought a lot of trouble to transfer to other major cultural formats of the country (Stratton, 1985, p.195). However, as they are overwhelmingly attached to the musical and theatrical forms, they could easily attract a class of the young generation that requires negotiating the social barriers and neglects of the major cultural groups. The urge for a change in the standardization of moral prospects of the culture eventually forced the young people rethink about their fates in the imbalanced cultural propositions in the society. These societal propositions effectively created a platform before the youngsters for thinking beyond the traditions.
The discouraging perceptions about the life experiences can create a gradual distance between the youth and the societal norms. Thus the young people form their own groups based on the collectiveness of social discontentment and the concerns about the cultural neglects. Thus they follow a pattern of behavior separating them from the mainstream social practices. According to O’Conner (2004), the social class formations based on the living conditions of the people as well as the related gender differences significantly result in the formation of youth subcultures (O’Conner, 2004, p.409). Several societies witness the issues of the youth in the form of reduced employment opportunities due to their underperformance at the education centers. The psychodynamic effect of this failure makes a separate way for them to keep away from the adult societies. The early experience of failures to perform well at desired centers of excellence makes them deprived of a series of self esteem aspects. This situation can eventually lead them to acquiring social status by adopting bad practices that catches easier public attention. The development and the rapid popularity of the punk culture was the result of a massive participation of the underperforming and socially discouraged youth in the British societies of the last quarter of the twentieth century. The findings of Bourdicu (as cited in O’Conner, 2004, p.410) suggest that the individual choices of people based on their experiences make their social behavior and cultural response platforms which collectively form a structure of experience on which they design the later part of their life and endeavors in a cultural society. This relative influence of social factors on the collective behavior of the deprived youth makes them disapproving and sometimes, dangerous for the followers of the traditional societal norms. Hence they oversee the reactions of the youth with a panic and categorize the new trends as youth subcultures.

Social Classes and Neighborhoods

The favorable conditions in the society are the parameters through which the young generations generally assess their positions in the cultural perspectives of the adult majority. Adult societies definitely have a great amount of moral responsibility towards the young generation. Therefore, the responses of the young generations to the cultural expectations of the societies about them have every possibility to develop from what they receive or perceive from their experience with their own societies. According to the observations of Cohen (as cited in Terpstra, 2006, p.2), the formation of subcultures is the collective measures taken by the socially challenged young generation to overcome the frustrations they conceive from their unsuccessful trials to meet the standards of the class requirements seeking an improvement in the lifestyle amidst the standard barriers of education, economic status and the class divisions in the society. The social exclusion created by the marginalization of the young generation on the basis of their social class creates segregated views among the young people. As a result, they eventually learn to blame the cultural majorities for their issues. Another important concern for them is the shifting of quality neighborhood to industrialized urban centers for want of employment and educational development of the children. This tendency breaks the bonds and trust between children of the same neighborhood as the departure of a proportion of the society affect the integrity of the peer group. The peer separation thus discourages the children from less economically stable families who subsequently start making an exclusion from the societies by blaming the major culture for their eventual fate. Thus the aspect of neighborhood shifts on the basis of employment and educational opportunities can contribute to the reasons for the subculture formation among the young people (Terpstra, pp.86-87).

Youth and Social Identity Concerns

An effective shift in the beliefs about the role of neighborhood can create a positive effect in the improvement of schooling of children and can work out better strategies to deal with the concern of subculture-led- moral panic across the societies. However, a proportion of disadvantaged neighborhood contexts translate to the underperformance among the college students while it increases the truancy rate among the school children. The increasing socioeconomic standard differences in the societies with regards to educational and employment opportunities make heterogeneity in the cultural views of the young generation which they reflect in their responses to the expectations of standard outcome from schooling and higher education in a negative manner. According to Harding (2011), the children and adolescent with the developmental background of a heterogeneous neighborhood tend to face a confusion associated with the selection of the most desirable cultural model from among the many present before them, and this confusion can affect their capacity to define their social life patterns and the potential to take strategic decisions (Harding, 2011, p323). The conceptual distance young people make from the societal norms as a resistance mechanism against the socioeconomic challenges develops their behavior in a secluded way, which eventually poses concerns about their prospective growth in the social participation as well as personal life performances. As Illeris (2003) argues, the youth cannot escape from self-orientation, the unavoidable condition for youth education, as new opportunities always arise (Illeris, 2003, p. 374). Conceptual deviation results in their forming a group belief which justifies their failures at expected levels by blaming the gap between their hard work and success as caused by the socio-cultural impacts of the society of the high performing developed classes. The concept of social isolation as part of the neighborhood context is strong enough to influence the youth culture (Harding, p.324). As such, the cultural isolation experienced by the social isolation of the young generation leads to the organizing of cultural groups which shows deviant behavior against the cultural expectations of the society, and the presence of a subclass-based arrangement of group behavior leads to the coexisting of various subcultures in one particular society by emphatically presenting a heterogeneous culture.


The concept of moral panic is a strong concern for the sociologists as the social influence of subcultures and their increasing popularity among the young generation have an alarming effect on the social structure and moral values of civilized communities. The activities of the subcultures are doubtlessly deviant and the formation of such radical groups intensifies the wide range socio-cultural concerns of the public and the government authorities. The perceived reasons for the emergence of subcultures are multidimensional and have a direct impact on the outcome of the educational and employment sectors in the long run. Although the participation of various agencies and organizations in the regulation of youth behavior and conceptual guidance are possible, the achievement of a hopeful outcome is possible only with strict parental supervision coupled with effective measures to alleviate the issues of truancy and substance abuse etc prevalent among the children.


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Ventegodt, S & Merrick, J. (2014). Significance of self-image and identity in youth development. Int J Child Adolesc Health 7(3),199-209.

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