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Stop the boats! Moral panic in Australia over asylum seekers

Stop the boats! Moral panic in Australia over asylum seekers This article analyses the social reaction to asylum seekers in Australia through the lens of moral panic theory. It argues that the most recent campaigns to deter ‘boat people’ from arriving in Australia have all the hallmarks of a classic moral panic, which have been successful because they resonate with deep-rooted anxieties about Australia's national identity and way of life, relating, among other things, to fear of Asian ‘invasion’ and concern with multiculturalism. However, the article seeks to extend moral panic theory to propose that rather than being episodic (as the original moral panic model suggests), moral panics over asylum seekers, at least, are now relatively permanent, which, it is argued, is largely a function of the inexorable ‘war on terror’ where the figure of the Muslim-terrorist-refugee is constructed as a transnational folk devil. On the other hand, the article argues that while resistance to moral panics seems to challenge the view that moral panics are forged of consensus (a key moral panic ingredient), societal reactions to refugees do resemble classic moral panics insofar as the negative response is broad and unified. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies Taylor & Francis

Stop the boats! Moral panic in Australia over asylum seekers

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies , Volume 29 (3): 19 – May 4, 2015
19 pages

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References (80)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2015 Taylor & Francis
ISSN
1469-3666
eISSN
1030-4312
DOI
10.1080/10304312.2014.986060
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article analyses the social reaction to asylum seekers in Australia through the lens of moral panic theory. It argues that the most recent campaigns to deter ‘boat people’ from arriving in Australia have all the hallmarks of a classic moral panic, which have been successful because they resonate with deep-rooted anxieties about Australia's national identity and way of life, relating, among other things, to fear of Asian ‘invasion’ and concern with multiculturalism. However, the article seeks to extend moral panic theory to propose that rather than being episodic (as the original moral panic model suggests), moral panics over asylum seekers, at least, are now relatively permanent, which, it is argued, is largely a function of the inexorable ‘war on terror’ where the figure of the Muslim-terrorist-refugee is constructed as a transnational folk devil. On the other hand, the article argues that while resistance to moral panics seems to challenge the view that moral panics are forged of consensus (a key moral panic ingredient), societal reactions to refugees do resemble classic moral panics insofar as the negative response is broad and unified.

Journal

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: May 4, 2015

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