The Transformation of Moral Panics in the Context of Information Society Modernization

Tyumen State University Herald. Social, Economic, and Law Research


2017, Vol. 3. №2

The Transformation of Moral Panics in the Context of Information Society Modernization

For citation: Yefanov A. A. 2017. “The Transformation of Moral Panics in the Context of Information Society Modernization”. Tyumen State University Herald. Social, Economic, and Law Research, vol. 3, no 2, pp. 66-75. DOI: 10.21684/2411-7897-2017-3-2-66-75

About the author:

Alexander A. Yefanov, Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, Orenburg State Pedagogical University;


In the neoinformation society the Internet is the main field for inspiring moral panics. The abundance of information on the web, that destroys the moral integrity of the society, its free access in an unlimited volume, creates a feeling of an approaching social catastrophe in society, generating stigmas and phobias — the primary cause of a moral panic. The tool for constructing a moral panic is the interactive resources of the Internet-forums and social networks that often spread fake information, generating rumors and gossip.

The subject of this article is the mechanisms of moral panics transformation in the context of modernization of the information society. The focus of sociological research is the society’s affective reactions to the spread of the so-called “death groups” in social networks. A set of methods is used: quantitative content analysis; discourse analysis; secondary analysis of statistical data. The base of the research was the issue of information programs of federal and regional TV channels, as well as “posts” of users of social networks. Chronological framework of the study: January — April 2017.

Based on the results of the study, it is concluded, that the phenomenon of the spread of the “death groups” in social networks is the moral panic of the second order. It was designed in a similar pattern to the moral panics of the 1990s related to gambling of teenagers in USA and the virtualization of school life (education on sex and the promotion of violence through information and communication technologies) in Russia. The main difference of this moral panic is the highest degree of demonization of the virtual network, presented as a destructive force, destroying the younger generation. Despite the absence of statistical data on the sharp increase in suicidal cases among adolescents as a result of the spread of the “death groups” in social networks, a broad discussion of the problem and manipulation by emotive-moralistic discourse technology (including on the part of top state officials) could provoke affective reactions in society. The “life cycle” of the moral panic was four months. Its recession was due to a drop in media interest in the phenomenon (due to the lack of facts about the real victims of the “death groups”).


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