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Title page for ETD etd-09112009-160225

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Thibodeaux, Jarrett Alan
URN etd-09112009-160225
Title More than a panic: correlates of the importance of drugs and unemployment
Degree Master of Arts
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary Jensen Committee Chair
Mike Ezell Committee Member
  • problem
  • Moral panic
  • deviance
  • social control
  • television
  • news
  • arrest
  • police
  • criticism
Date of Defense 2009-08-20
Availability unrestricted
This paper proposes a modified research design for moral panic research and research investigating the importance of social problems generally. The paper argues that a more appropriate research design for the importance of social problems should test the theories of constructionism and objectivism separately. In order to accomplish this, a generalized theory of constructionism, rather than an intermittent theory of moral panics regarding the disproportion between the prevalence and importance of a social problem, should be used to test the correlates of the importance of social problems. In presenting this research design, this paper investigates correlates of the importance of the social problems of drugs (from 1975-2006) and unemployment (from 1970-2007). The theory of objectivism is tested with the prevalence of drug use and unemployment. The theory of constructionism is tested with the number of news stories and drug arrests. Both tests use time series analysis. The results show conflicting conclusions: the objectivist hypothesis is supported for the problem of unemployment while the constructionist argument is supported for the problem of drugs. As a result, this paper suggests a need to modify, and presents possibilities for modifying, both the objectivist and constructionist hypotheses.

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