‘A Fish rots from the Head: How Powerful Moral Entrepreneurs Manufacture Folk Devils’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Prejudice, the act of characterizing people in a stereotypical and derogatory fashion to justify their persecution, is literally ‘pre-judging’. Being prejudiced means refusing to allow a judgement based on the facts available to affect your attitudes and actions towards a group of people: insisting on the right to have an opinion based on mythmaking; listening to, believing and telling lies that often add up to conspiracy fantasies that turn reality on its head. Groups of people who are oppressed and less powerful than others are described as either threatening to dominate ‘us’, i.e. the rest of society, or as a risk, through their attitudes, which are alleged to undermine social norms and established cultures. Many sociologists have explored the way in which states categorize groups of people – human figurations – into ‘established and outsiders’ (Elias and Scotson 2008) or more commonly simply label the problem group as ‘outsiders’ (Becker 1963) or ‘hooligans’ (Pearson 1983).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModern Folk Devils – Contemporary Constructions of Evil
Place of PublicationHelsinki
PublisherUniversity of Helsinki Press
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


  • moral panics folk devils outsider scapegoating stigmatisation

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