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Social Care: Linking Social Response and Migration


It goes without saying that for smooth functioning, any society should have a social order. However, no society across the globe and through human history succeeded in forcing all members to continually behave expectedly. In general, there are two responses from people when real or seeming pressures from others occur – conformity and deviance. Conformity may be regarded as obedience to particular norms and rules acceptable in a certain society or social setting. In addition, it is acceptance of cultural values, beliefs, and goals as well as approved means of their achievement.

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In turn, when an individual fails or does not want to conform to socially acceptable group norms, deviation arises. It is a specific behavior that implies the violation of social rules, expectations, and conduct standards. Understood only within a particular social context, deviation may vary in different groups and over time and includes both criminal behavior and less serious non-punishable actions. At the same time, the deviation is closely connected with the concept of moral panics, defined as an unjustified panic concerning specific social issues created by interested parties based on folk devils’ socially unacceptable behaviors (Cohen, 2002).

Examining the classic example of moral panic derived from a violent confrontation of two subcultural groups in Britain, Cohen (2002) identified several stages of this phenomenon. They include the definition of an event as an expression of deviation, the amplification of a potential threat through inflammatory rhetoric, the creation of a sense of anxiety and public concerns, government response, and subsequent control and regulation of society (Mannion and Small, 2019). The mass media traditionally devote particular attention to deviation, such as scandals, sensational crimes, or bizarre happenings, forming moral panics.

Migration and Social Change

Humans have constantly moved across the globe throughout their history since the earliest time. Some people search for work and other economic opportunities to improve their lives, while others move to study or join the family. People frequently migrate to escape military conflicts, terrorism, human rights violation, and persecution. In addition, a substantial number of people move in response to the devastating effects of natural disasters, climate change, and other environmental factors. As a result, according to the IOM World Migration Report 2020, in the present day, more than 270 million people all over the world live in a country where they were not born, either voluntarily or out of necessity (United Nations, no date).

At the same time, people’s movement from natural and man-made calamities or in search of better economic conditions has a more powerful impact on the cultures, demography, and ethnic compositions of recipient societies that conquests and conflicts. In the majority of European countries, international migration currently determines their populations’ size, age, composition, and rates of their growth, leading to considerable social change. At the same time, in some countries, emigration predominates over immigration and substantially accelerates the population’s natural decrease (Hayward and Howard, 2007). In addition, migration inevitably changes host countries’ labor markets and may even lead to a change in social norms and cultural values, and beliefs.

Links Between These Concepts

From a personal perspective, the concepts of social response and migration may be closely connected. First of all, in his book, Cohen (2002) addressed the impact of mass media on the creation of moral panic in the 1990s in Britain caused by the presence of refugees and the same tendency may be observed nowadays concerning recent waves of asylum seekers in the European Union. The most typical methods used by mass media include:

  • Particular attention to all crimes committed by migrants with partial ignorance of crimes committed by natively born Europeans;
  • Particular attention to all expressions of refugees’ cultural and religious values and beliefs;
  • Translation of the idea that a considerable number of people pretend to be refugees and arrived in Europe to live in comfort receiving governments’ financial help;
  • Translation of the idea that refugees want to take all working places from Europeans and caused wage decline;
  • Translation of the idea that massive migration will lead to the degeneration of Europeans in the future.

As a result, mass media contributes to the penetration of the culture of disbelief in the European society that, in turn, creates moral panics (Cohen, 2002). In other words, citizens start to believe that refugees did not arrive escaping military conflicts and human rights violations in their native countries but merely to comfortable living in Europe without the intention to return. In addition, they do not respect European values and refuse to assimilate, demonstrating deviant behaviors – thus, they will define the continent’s demography and ethnic constitution in the future.

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Another way how these concepts may be connected is through a common condition or event, for instance, famine. In general, migration may currently serve as an indicator and response to famine. The modern development of transportation and the ability to receive the status of refugees escaping from climate change, economic and other challenges that led to famine allow people to move to another place in order not to die from starvation. At the same time, this necessity may cause moral panic both among people who have to leave their homes without a clear plan of where to go and what to do and people in host countries where mass media may raise unjustified concerns about newly arrived asylum seekers.

During the thorough examination of the two concepts of social response and migration and their interrelations, I realized that almost any person in the contemporary world may be affected by moral panics. I fully agree that mass media currently form people’s attitudes to various events and conditions, raising unreliable concerns. In addition, I believe that migration inevitably impacts the societies of host countries in multiple ways, though the nature of this impact should be properly investigated by specialists over time.

However, before this study, I did not realize the scope of manipulation supposing that moral panics occur predominantly naturally in response to severe deviation. However, I have learned that by focusing on a particular event, interested parties make people worry and panic by putting a rhetorical question either directly or indirectly – what if the same thing happens near you or with you? Any dangerous deviation, for example, child abuse, should be prosecuted, and relevant measures should be taken to prevent the same intolerable and threatening activities in the future.

However, any competent social care worker needs to understand that moral panics are always not good as they always imply moralization and distortion. That is why social care workers should avoid terrifying people and think critically about the problem and its positive and negative possible consequences to offer proper solutions.

Reference List

Cohen, S. (2002) Folk devils and moral panics: the creation of the Mods and Rockers. London: Routledge.

Hayward, K. and Howard, K. (2007) ‘Cherry-picking the diaspora’ in Fanning, B. (ed.) Immigration and social change in the Republic of Ireland. Manchester; Manchester University Press.

Mannion, R. and Small, N. (2019) ‘On folk devils, moral panics and new wave public health’, International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 8(12), pp. 678-683. Web.

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United Nations (no date) Global issues: migration. Web.

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