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Bodgies, widgies and moral panic in Australia 1955-1959

Moore, Keith (2004) Bodgies, widgies and moral panic in Australia 1955-1959. In Bailey, C., Cabrera, D., & Buys, L. (Eds.) Social Change in the 21st Century Conference, Centre for Social Change Research.

Abstract

In the latter half of the 1950s, concerns that Australia’s teenagers, and especially working-class teenagers, were becoming delinquent reached a crescendo. Law-abiding citizens observed with concern bodgies and widgies congregating in milk bars and on street corners. Violence and sexual license were their hallmarks, they believed, with alarmist and sensationalist media reports having established and fuelled these understandings. Without recourse to reliable statistics, many people embraced the opinion that a substantial proportion of the country’s teenagers were uncontrollable. Some advocated punishments such as sending ‘bodgies to the Nullarbor to work on a rail gang’ (Perth Daily News, 7 October, 1957), sending them ‘to sea under a tough [navy] skipper’ (Perth Daily News, 16 November, 1957) and inflicting harsh corporal punishment upon them. Others, however, were more concerned about the adoption of preventative measures. Parental alcohol consumption and gambling, lack of discipline, high wages and youthful access to unsuitable comics, horror picture shows, and after 1956, rock and roll music were among the factors that generated delinquency, they suggested. Their views, popularized by sensational press reports, contributed to a ‘moral panic’ throughout the Australian community

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ID Code: 633
Item Type: Conference Paper
ISBN: 1741070813
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) (210303)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Keith Moore
Deposited On: 21 Dec 2004
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:09

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