Moral Panic: From Mods and Rockers to Grand Theft Auto


In the early-mid 1960s two conflicting groups of British youths sparked the first case of major nationwide moral panic with their fighting. The first group were termed “rockers”, usually rural, manual workers who wore clothes such as black leather jackets and rode big motorcycles in gangs. The other group, known as “mods”, were mostly city dwellers who wore suits and rode scooters, and who saw rockers as “out of touch”. Conflict usually took place over disputes like the overlapping of territories.

Since then moral panic has occurred over a number of varied social issues, for example, football hooliganism of the 1970s, acid house parties in the 1980s, the rise of the skinhead over those decades, and more recently explicit video games.

When watching the clips below, can you understand why such issues would have sparked moral panic amongst the British population, taking into consideration the historical and cultural context?

BBC News report from 1988 showing public opinion of the popular “acid house parties” of the time:

BBC News report on the recent success of Grand Theft Auto IV and the controversy surrounding the game series:


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