Loughborough University
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Fuelling the panic: the societal reaction to 'boy racers'

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-02-07, 10:26 authored by Karen Lumsden
Fuelled by media coverage of reckless, irresponsible and anti-social driving, young (male) motorists are an area of concern for politicians, police and citizens more generally. In media and popular discourses the symbol of the boy racer has come to represent deviance, anti-social behaviour, criminality and risk on the roads. This paper focuses on a local moral panic concerning boy racers in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. Five elements, which characterise a moral panic, are identified and include: concern, hostility, consensus, disproportion and volatility (Goode and Ben- Yehuda 2009[1994]). Urban regeneration played a key part in this particular moral panic in terms of class, cultural and intergenerational clashes between racers and outside groups. The moral panic was further institutionalised through the use of measures such as anti-social behaviour legislation. Moreover, it was symptomatic of wider societal concern regarding the regulation of young (male) motorists and the related governance of urban space and incivilities. The discussion draws on data collected via participant observation with the drivers, semi-structured interviews with members of the outside groups and content analysis of media reports which focus on the culture.


Moral Panic Studies Network



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


LUMSDEN, K., 2012. Fuelling the panic: the societal reaction to 'boy racers'. Brunel University, Moral Panic Studies Working Paper Series, 1, 20pp.


Brunel University


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Publication date



This article is part of the Moral Panic Studies Working Paper Series, edited by Amanda Rohloff of Brunel University. The series disseminates the work of a network of international researchers on all areas of moral panic studies.

Book series

Moral Panic Studies Working Paper Series;2012/1


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