FACTOID # 5: Minnesota and Connecticut are both in the top 5 in saving money and total tax burden per capita.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Culture of fear

Culture of fear is a term proposed in a variety of sociological theses, which argue that feelings of fear and anxiety predominate in contemporary public discourse and relationships, changing how we relate to one another as individuals and as democratic agents. Though each of these theses may provide different accounts for the sources and consequences of the trend they seek to describe, most share the basic claim that this is a relatively new phenomenon with important and potentially harmful implications. Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Fear is an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, real or not. ... Anxiety is a complex combination of the feeling of fear, apprehension and worry often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. ...

Contents


Variations on the thesis

Several different social commentators have offered a Culture of Fear thesis, each with a distinctive emphasis. They may be categorised along a spectrum, from those which consider the phenomenon to be consciously directed - a deliberate policy of scaremongering - to those which treat it as arising spontaneously out of historical developments, as a reflexive response to other changes in human society.


Constructed fear

Among those tending to argue that a Culture of Fear is being deliberately manufactured might be counted linguist Noam Chomsky, journalist Alex Jones, sociologist Barry Glassner or polemical filmmakers such as Adam Curtis and Michael Moore, who has been accused of cultivating the very thing he has spoken against [1], [2]. The motives offered for such a deliberate programme of scaremongering vary, but hinge on the potential for increased social control that a mistrustful and mutually fearing population might offer to those in power. In these accounts, fears are carefully and repeatedly created and fed by the mass media and other sources - through the manipulation of words, facts, news, sources or data, in order to induce certain personal behaviors, justify governmental actions or policies (at home or abroad), keep people consuming, elect demagogic politicians, or distract the public's attention from allegedly more urgent social issues like poverty, social security, unemployment, crime or pollution. Such commentators suggest that we consider a range of cultural processes as deliberate techniques for scaremongering. For example: Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Alex Jones Alex Jones (born 1974) is a controversial U.S. documentary film producer and radio host who vigorously works to investigate his claims that a New World Order is attempting to conquer the world. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Adam Curtis is a British television documentary producer. ... Michael Moore pictured on the cover of his book Michael Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American film director, author, and social commentator. ... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum in Jakarta, Indonesia shows his find. ... For specific national programs, see Social Security (United States), National insurance (UK), Social Security (Sweden) Social security mainly refers to a field of social welfare concerned with social protection, or protection against socially recognized needs, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment, families with children and others. ... Dorothea Langes Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers in California during the Great Depression. ... Environmental Pollution is the release of harmful environmental contaminants, or the substances so released. ...

  • careful selection and omission of news (some relevant facts are shown and some are not);
  • distortion of statistics or numbers;
  • transformation of single events into social epidemics;
  • corruption and distortion of words or terminology according to specific goals;
  • stigmatization of minorities, especially when associated with criminal acts or degrading behaviors;
  • generalization of complex and multifaceted situations;
  • causal inversion (turning a cause into an effect or vice-versa).

Still, it is quite possible that ecrtain fears have a reward feedback of their own and hence become emphasized and repeated without any deliberate effort, and are only later taken up and used as a means of scaring people into buying certain goods and services or into voting a certain way. Statistics is a broad mathematical discipline which studies ways to collect, summarize and draw conclusions from data. ... In sociology and in voting theory, a minority is a sub-group that is outnumbered by persons who do not belong to it. ...


Emergent fear

At the other end of the spectrum, fear is presented as a sensibility that emerges from every corner of contemporary society, spontaneously. Frank Furedi, the Hungarian-born Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent (UK) exemplifies this end of the spectrum with his books, Culture of Fear: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectations (1997) and Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right (2005). Furedi's account locates the source of the phenomenon in what he characterises a 'failure of historical imagination', a symptom of what he identifies as the exhaustion of 20th century systems of political meaning. Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, UK. Previously, as Frank Richards, he was founder and chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain, a left-wing political party which was expelled from the International Socialists in the 1970s, styling itself as the Revolutionary Opposition. ... Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... The University of Kent (originally titled University of Kent at Canterbury and still often referred to as UKC) is a plate glass university in the United Kingdom. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the...

It was my experience of the 1995 contraceptive Pill panic that motivated me to write Culture of Fear. I carried out a global study of national reactions to the panic, and it quickly became clear that the differential responses were culturally informed. Some societies, like Britain and Germany, responded in a confused, panic-like fashion - while countries like France, Belgium and Hong Kong adopted a more calm and measured approach. [3]

By Furedi's account, a universal sense of fearfulness pre-exists and underpins the expression of fears by media and politicians. While media and politicians might amplify and exploit this sensibility, their activities are not decisive in its cultural production. Furedi levels the charge at various 'anti-establishment' or 'liberal' voices that they are at least as complicit in the exploitation of fears (ecological catastrophe, for example) as the 'establishment' that is more commonly held to benefit from the culture of fear.


Lack of fear

The same process of creating fear can be used to dampen it either by trivializing or outright ignoring the problem, a kind of death by apathy. It's hard to be scared of something which doesn't exist. Examples of this are the issues of asbestos, lead, cigarettes: until people could conclusively prove harm, all these problems were swept under the rug. Another example could be the idea of not reporting on wars to give the appearance they don't exist. Apathy is the lack of emotion, motivation, or enthusiasm. ... Fibrous asbestos on muscovite Asbestos Asbestos Asbestos (a misapplication of Latin: asbestos quicklime from Greek ἄσβεστος: a-, not; sbestos, extinguishable) describes any of a group of fibrous metamorphic minerals of the hydrous magnesium silicate variety. ... General Name, Symbol, Number lead, Pb, 82 Chemical series poor metals Group, Period, Block 14, 6, p Appearance bluish white Atomic mass 207. ... A cigarette will burn to ash on one end. ...


Case studies

Each of the above commentators has picked out examples from recent public discourse to illustrate their case. In each case, the general argument is that the nature of the threat described in public discourse is out of all proportion to the real risks and harms entailed. Different commentators focus on different aspects of such cases - for example, one will focus on how stories might be distorted as they filter through the national media, while another will concentrate on the receptivity of the audience, or its willingness to alter its behaviour or voting preferences. For each case, there may be several experts and organizations who dispute the implication that the issue is unduly exaggerated.

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a microorganism to withstand the effects of an antibiotic. ... Germ is an informal term for a disease-causing organism, particularly bacteria (as in germ warfare). ... Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA) is a specific strain of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium that has developed antibiotic resistance, first to penicillin since 1947, and later to methicillin and related anti-staphylococcal drugs (such as flucloxacillin). ... Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a microorganism to withstand the effects of an antibiotic. ... Breast implant diagram A breast implant is a prosthesis used in cosmetic surgery to enhance the size and shape of ones breasts or to reconstruct the breast (for example, after a mastectomy). ... Cellular redirects here. ... A pharmaceutical company is a licensed drug company, licensed to discover, develop, markets and distribute drugs. ... Many drugs are provided in tablet form. ... The original Dungeons & Dragons set Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D or DnD) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) published by Gary Gygax and David Arneson in January 1974. ... Cover of the original novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. ... Someone who performs, composes, or conducts music is a musician. ... Foodborne illness or food poisoning is caused by consuming food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, toxins, viruses, prions or parasites. ... Global mean surface temperatures 1856 to 2004 Mean temperature anomalies during the period 1995 to 2004 with respect to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere and oceans. ... Burglar (or intrusion), fire and safety alarms are commonly found in electronic form today. ... Human immunodeficiency virus, commonly called HIV, is a retrovirus that primarily infects vital components of the human immune system such as CD4+ T cells, macrophages and dendritic cells. ... Immunization (AmE) or Immunisation (BE) has a number of meanings: In medicine immunization is the process by which an individual is exposed to a material that is designed to prime his or her immune system against that material. ... Africanized bees, also known as killer bees, are hybrids of the African honeybee, Apis mellifera adansonii (or by other reports ), with various European honeybees such as the Italian bee Apis mellifera ligustica. ... Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear reactions to do useful work (another term in use is Atomic Energy). ... Image of the largest antarctic ozone hole ever recorded in September 2000. ... For the Moldavian pop group see O-Zone Ozone (O3) is an allotrope of oxygen, the molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms instead of the more stable diatomic O2. ... Paganism (from Latin paganus) and Heathenry are catch-all terms which have come to connote a broad set of spiritual/religious beliefs and practices of a natural religion, as opposed to the Abrahamic religions. ... The term witchcraft (and witch) is a controversial one with a complicated history. ... Conservatism or political conservatism is any of several historically related political philosophies or political ideologies. ... As a noun, Christian is an appellation and moniker deriving from the appellation Christ, which many people associate exclusively with Jesus of Nazareth. ... This article is about outbreaks of disease. ... Pedophilia (Am. ... Pediatrics (also spelled paediatrics or pædiatrics) is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants and children. ... Poverty describes a wide range of circumstances associated with need, hardship and lack of resources. ... Satanic ritual abuse, or SRA, refers to the belief that an organized network of Satanists engages in brainwashing and abusing victims, especially children, throughout the United States or even the world. ... This article concerns proposals to change the Social Security system in the United States. ... Terrorism is the unconventional use of violence for political gain. ... It has been suggested that Eden-Nathan Zada be merged into this article or section. ... Missing white woman syndrome, also known as missing pretty girl syndrome, is a term coined by some media critics to mean a form of media hype in which excessive news coverage is devoted to a specific missing white woman or girl, while virtually ignoring missing men and non-white people. ... Leda and the Swan, a 16th century copy after a lost painting by Michelangelo, 1530 (National Gallery, London) Zoophilia (from the Greek Zoon, animal, and Philia, friendship or love) is a paraphilia, defined as an affinity or sexual attraction by a human to animals. ...

See also

A moral panic is a mass movement based on the false or exaggerated perception that some individual or group, frequently a minority group or a subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses a menace to society. ... Sensationalism is a manner of being extremely controversial, loud, attention-grabbing, or otherwise sensationalistic. ... The Power of Nightmares is a BBC series of documentary films, written and produced by Adam Curtis. ...

References

Books

Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, UK. Previously, as Frank Richards, he was founder and chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain, a left-wing political party which was expelled from the International Socialists in the 1970s, styling itself as the Revolutionary Opposition. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a book by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. ... Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, UK. Previously, as Frank Richards, he was founder and chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Great Britain, a left-wing political party which was expelled from the International Socialists in the 1970s, styling itself as the Revolutionary Opposition. ... Michael Crichton Dr. John Michael Crichton (born October 23, 1942, pronounced cry-ton ) is an author, film producer and television producer. ...

DVDs

Bowling for Columbine is a film directed by and starring Michael Moore. ... 2002 (MMII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Michael Moore pictured on the cover of his book Michael Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American film director, author, and social commentator. ... DVD cover of Outfoxed Outfoxed: Rupert Murdochs War on Journalism is a 2004 documentary film by Robert Greenwald that argues that the Fox News Channel has a right wing bias. ... Rupert Murdoch Keith Rupert Murdoch (born March 11, 1931) is an Australian-born American media proprietor who is the majority shareholder and managing director of News Corporation, one of the worlds largest and most influential media corporations. ... Robert Greenwald (born August 28, 1945 in New York, New York) is an American film director and producer. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Culture of Fear book review (Skeptical Inquirer January 2000) (886 words)
News media may use these fears to earn higher ratings, politicians may play on our fears during elections, and perhaps, in a sense, even lobbyists for special interest groups may exchange fear for increased fund-raising.
While the airline traveler may feel uncomfortable when turbulence is encountered, or when recalling that she is many thousands of feet over ground in a flying, metal tube with wings, fears of crashes, collisions, and death are greatly exaggerated.
The average person's probability of dying in an air crash is about 1 in 4 million, or roughly the same as winning the jackpot in a state lottery." One reason the general public may continue to fear flying is that journalists often confuse incidence for rates.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m