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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Social policy and mental illness in England in the 1990s: Violence, moral panic and critical discourse
Author(s): Paterson, Brodie
Stark, Cameron
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Keywords: Discourse
Issue Date: Jun-2001
Citation: Paterson B & Stark C (2001) Social policy and mental illness in England in the 1990s: Violence, moral panic and critical discourse, Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8 (3), pp. 257-267.
Abstract: Violence perpetrated by people experiencing mental illness poses a continuing challenge to practitioners and policy makers in the mental health field. It has been suggested, however, that policy developments in England during the period 1990-2000 became unduly dominated by the perceived need to prevent such violence and in particular that a 'moral panic' occurred following a series of high profile homicides perpetrated by people experiencing mental illness. This paper critically examines the ability of the moral panic theory to offer a cogent explanation of the relationship between media representations, public perceptions and developments in both social policy and legislation during the last decade. Its conclusions, however, suggest that the evidence does not support assertions of a moral panic and that of moral panic theory itself has serious flaws. Ultimately the paper suggests that we must look elsewhere, particularly to Foucault's conceptualization of discourse and to the work of Birkland, an American political theorist, in our search for an understanding of the relationship between events, ideas and social policy.
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