Moral Panics in Suburban Texas

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice


Citation of Original Publication

Durington, Matthew. (2007) "Moral Panics in Suburban Texas". EASA MediaAnthro E-Seminar Series.



This paper details portions of an ethnographic study of a moral panic that surrounded the heroin overdose deaths of several teenagers in the American suburb of Plano, Texas. Media ethnography engages numerous individuals who represent different institutions who participated in various discussions and the creation of strategies that emerged throughout the tenure of the moral panic in the suburb. These forces acting in an interdependent fashion assisted in the creation of a new social subject, the suburban teenage heroin addict. Both the residents of Plano, Texas and the media that helped establish the moral panic relied on a representational history of the American suburb that conflates and entangles notions of race, class and space and demarcates this social space as white. I discuss the practice of media ethnography through a comprehensive content analysis of several forms of media, and the ethnographic reception and conveyance of that media among individuals within the context of fieldwork.