Dissertation Abstracts

'Anyone Who Doesn’t Jump is the Bogeyman!': Moral Panic and Social Construction of the Paedophilia: An Ethnographic Research Study

Author: Tartari, Morena , morenatartari@gmail.com
Department: FISPPA Deparment - Section of Sociology
University: University of Padova, Italy
Supervisor: Valerio Belotti
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Italian

Keywords: moral panic , paedophilia , ethnography , social anxiety
Areas of Research: Deviance and Social Control , Risk and Uncertainty , Childhood


Using the frame of grounded theory and the concepts of moral panic, risk and moral regulation, this study analyzes the social construction of the ‘paedophilia problem’ from a sociological point of view. Beginning with a sensational case of child abuse, this study examines the role of moral entrepreneurs, interest groups, and the media in constructing the ‘paedophilia social problem’ and in the emergence of related moral panics. After a theoretical discussion of the sociology of moral panic and its ongoing reconceptualization, this study analyzes the results of data that draws on: 49 in-depth interviews with social actors involved in the case; participant observation of the community where the case emerged; participant observation of eight conferences organized by interest groups; and content analysis of newspapers articles and television programs about the case. By way of conclusion, I discuss the role of risk society and moralization processes in constructing the paedophilia problem, and in particular the ritual abuse problem. Furthermore, I reconceptualize some categories of the classical models of moral panic sociology.

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