Moral entrepreneurs are those who construct deviant behavior. In other words, moral entrepreneurs claim that a social phenomenon is a social problem or that what is generally recognized as a problem is serious enough to warrant immediate attention and decisive action.
Moral entrepreneurship is the business of persuading the society to make policy from particular moral viewpoints. Sociologists are not interested in the validity of the claims made during Moral Panic created by moral entrepreneurs, but are interested in the dynamics of social change and the organizational strategies of moral entrepreneurs. In symbolic interactionism or labeling theory, society is viewed as consisting of a plurality of understandings of what is best. Moral entrepreneurs create or enforce norms for humanistic reasons.
A moral entrepreneur is a person who seeks to influence a group to adopt or maintain a norm. These individual or groups are referred to as moral entrepreneurs because they seek to propagate their moral viewpoints. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the pro-life movement, the gun lobby, anti-pornography groups, Emily Murphy, and the anti-tobacco lobby would all be examples of moral entrepreneurs.
In order for social policy to arise, moral entrepreneurs initiate a social movement whose task is to articulate a definition of a social problem such that a desired social policy is consistent with this definition of the problem.
"Moral Entrepreneurs: The Creation and Enforcement of Deviant Categories" by Howard Becker exemplifies how deviant behavior leads to social control. He also shows how rule breakers evoke different responses from rule makers and rule enforcers.
According to Becker, successful moral crusades are generally dominated by those in the upper social strata of society. Becker suggests that there is political competition in which these moral entrepreneurs or moral crusaders originate, crusades aimed at generating reform, based on what they think is moral, therefore defining deviance. Moral entrepreneurs or moral crusaders must have power, public support, generate public awareness of the issue, and be able to propose a clear and acceptable solution to the problem.
Moral Entrepreneurship and International Crime
Multinational Enterprises as "Moral
Entrepreneurs" in a Global Prohibition Regime Against Corruption - Stephen
Wrage, Alexandra Wrage - International Studies Association.
Merchants of Law as Moral Entrepreneurs:
Constructing International Justice from the Competition for Transnational Business
Disputes - Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth
The New Moral Entrepreneurs: Corporate Crime Crusaders - Susan P. Shapiro
Moral entrepreneurs and political economy: Historical and ethnographic notes on the construction of the cocaine menace. - Journal: Crime, Law and Social Change.
Moral Entrepreneurs and the Campaign to Ban
Three "moral entrepreneurs" and the creation of a "criminal class" in England - Philips, David. c.1790s-1840s'. Crime, Histoire et Sociétés, 7:1 (2003), 79-107. ISSN 14220857.