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Official Reactions to Graffiti in New York City: Making Spaces of Distinction
Unformatted Document Text:  is used to illustrate the ‘elite-engineered’ model (1994: 135-138). The problem is not so much that this approach entirely misrepresents the work of Erikson and Hall et al, but that it does not adequately capture the nature of their theoretical interventions. Of course, Erikson and Hall et al offer different perspectives on moral panics, yet these differences do not revolve around the dimensions of ‘motive’ and ‘origin’. Rather, Erikson and Hall et al tend to emphasize the broader social ‘functions’ fulfilled by moral panics and are engaged in a dispute which takes place at the level of analysis commonly known as ‘macro-sociological’. This not only begins to identify one of the limitations of the schemata offered by Goode and Ben-Yehuda but also suggests an alternative set of co-ordinates for exploring moral panics. It seems to us that moral panics can be analyzed at two levels - the ‘meso’ and the ‘macro’. Given the nature of our findings it is important to identify the key positions and stand points available at the macro-sociological level. Three macro-sociological approaches to moral panics Three major perspectives, united by the attempt they make to understand the relationship between ‘moral panics’ and the reproduction of social order, can be identified: The moral view; the conflictual view; and the disciplinary view. The ‘moral’ view takes its lead from Durkheim's (1893/1960) notion of the ‘collective conscious’ and finds lucid expression in Erikson's Wayward Puritans (1966). Durkheim used the term ‘collective conscious’ to refer to the moral values supposedly shared by the members of a society. Such values demarcate the boundaries of a community and ensure 4

Authors: Kramer, Ronald.
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is used to illustrate the ‘elite-engineered’ model (1994: 135-138). The problem is not so 
much that this approach entirely misrepresents the work of Erikson and Hall et al, but that 
it does not adequately capture the nature of their theoretical interventions. Of course, 
Erikson and Hall et al offer different perspectives on moral panics, yet these differences 
do not revolve around the dimensions of ‘motive’ and ‘origin’. Rather, Erikson and Hall 
et al tend to emphasize the broader social ‘functions’ fulfilled by moral panics and are 
engaged in a dispute which takes place at the level of analysis commonly known as 
‘macro-sociological’. 
     This not only begins to identify one of the limitations of the schemata offered by 
Goode and Ben-Yehuda but also suggests an alternative set of co-ordinates for exploring 
moral panics. It seems to us that moral panics can be analyzed at two levels - the ‘meso’ 
and the ‘macro’. Given the nature of our findings it is important to identify the key 
positions and stand points available at the macro-sociological level.
Three macro-sociological approaches to moral panics
Three major perspectives, united by the attempt they make to understand the relationship 
between ‘moral panics’ and the reproduction of social order, can be identified: The moral 
view; the conflictual view; and the disciplinary view.
     The ‘moral’ view takes its lead from Durkheim's (1893/1960) notion of the ‘collective 
conscious’ and finds lucid expression in Erikson's Wayward Puritans (1966). Durkheim 
used the term ‘collective conscious’ to refer to the moral values supposedly shared by the 
members of a society. Such values demarcate the boundaries of a community and ensure 
4


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