• ISSN: 2010-3646
    • Abbreviated Title: Int. J. Social. Scienc. Humanit.
    • Frequency: Bimonthly (2011-2014); Monthly (2015-2018); Quarterly (Since 2019)
    • DOI: 10.18178/IJSSH
    • Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Paul Sudnik
    • Executive Editor: Mr. Ron C. Wu
    • Abstracting/ Indexing: Google Scholar, Index Copernicus, Crossref, Electronic Journals Library
    • E-mail: ijssh@ejournal.net
IJSSH 2021 Vol.11(2): 35-39 ISSN: 2010-3646
doi: 10.18178/ijssh.2021.V11.1035

Toilet Paper Thrones and Heated Tweets: Applying Moral Panic and Social Network Theory to Responses Over Panic Buying during COVID-19

Shuxuan (Elizabeth) Li
Abstract—Social networks string everyone together. In the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, residents left their houses less often and maintained their connections online. Preparing for longer periods at home, some customers stockpiled supplies, the most discussed of which being toilet paper. When internet users came across videos of empty store shelves and people boasting about the amount of toilet paper they obtained, public contempt exploded over these supposed “panicked buyers.” From February to May of 2020, patterns of reaction against panic buying matched the description of a moral panic as presented by sociologist Stanley Cohen. The media is an agent of contagions in a social network. During COVID-19, news headlines often detailed shortages of supplies around the world. Meanwhile, social media became a platform for videos of stockpiling consumers, like those who built thrones out of toilet paper boxes. These behaviors from the media further escalated a small issue of temporary toilet paper shortage to almost a national emergency, while drawing attention away from shortages of crucial medical supplies and test kits.

Index Terms—Panic buying, media, demonization, moral panic, social network.

Shuxuan (Elizabeth) Li is with the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, 36 Charter Road, Acton, MA 01720, USA (e-mail: lielizabeth63@gmail.com).


Cite: Shuxuan (Elizabeth) Li, "Toilet Paper Thrones and Heated Tweets: Applying Moral Panic and Social Network Theory to Responses Over Panic Buying during COVID-19," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 35-39, 2021.

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