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The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends

Joel Best, Gerald T. Horiuchi
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/800777 488-499 First published online: 1 June 1985


This paper examines the widespread belief that anonymous sadists give children dangerous treats on Halloween. A review of news stories about Halloween sadism from 1958 to 1983 suggests that the threat has been greatly exaggerated. Halloween sadism can be viewed as an urban legend, which emerged during the early 1970s to give expression to growing fears about the safety of children, the danger of crime, and other sources of social strain. Urban legends, like collective behavior and social problems construction, are responses to social strain, shaped by the perception of the threat and social organization.

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