Don T Panic About Moral Panic

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DON`T PANIC ABOUT MORAL PANIC GILAD ABIRI Contents INTRODUCTION 1 I. THE MODELS OF MORAL PANIC 2 A. Proccesual Model 2 B. Attributional Model 5 II. DO MORAL PANICS REPRESENT A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY? 8 A. The problem stated intuitively 8 B. Preferences vs. Reason – A theory of democratic decision-making 10 IV. WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT MORAL PANIC 15 A. The Legislature 17 B. The Administration 17 C. The Judiciary 19 INTRODUCTION One of the basic questions facing democratic institutions is how to design policies and make decisions that fit both our short and long term interests. How do we create institutions that prevent emerging crises from harming our future? This wide reaching co-nundrum encompasses key discussions on the environment, security concerns and economic planning. The purpose of this article is to discuss one specific emanation of this issue that has not received enough attention in scholarship: the question of democratic decision making in times of moral panics. The ability of democracies to make decisions in line with the long term interests of its citizens is vulnerable to intense, short term shift in public opinion. There are few shifts more radical than those experienced by societies in the throes of moral panic – those times where a perceived social threat creates high levels of concern and anxiety in the population. Though much has been written about moral panics, there has not yet been a general discussion about its implications for the theory and
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