Interesting and informative, this book smartly explores the various ways in which fear is used and manipulated in our society, from politics to media.
Specifically, Frank Furedi, originally Hungarian and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent, presents a compelling theory that we live in a culture of fear, different to the culture of courage and self-reliance of a century ago. In fact, nowadays, our values are centred around safety and risk aversion.
Through thought-provoking reasoning, the author also encourages the reader to question they how may be impacted by fear when they receive information.
While the writing style was dry for me, this was a fascinating and a very reflective read that left me with a deeper understanding of the role fear plays in our everyday life, and raised many questions about the direction of our society.
Title: How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century
Author: Frank Furedi
Year First Published: 2018
In 1997, Frank Furedi published a book called Culture of Fear. It was widely acclaimed as perceptive and prophetic. Now Furedi returns to his original theme, as most of what he predicted has come true.
In this new book, Furedi seeks to explain two interrelated themes: why has fear acquired such a morally commanding status in society today and how has the way we fear today changed from the way that it was experienced in the past? He explores key moments in the history of fear to help situate the workings of this emotion in contemporary society.
Furedi argues that one of the main drivers of the culture of fear is unraveling of moral authority. Fear appears to provide a provisional solution to moral uncertainty and is for that reason embraced by a variety of interests, parties, and individuals. Furedi predicts that until society finds a more positive orientation towards uncertainty the politicization of fear will flourish.
Fear has become a problem in its own right to the extent that people now use the term culture of fear as an everyday idiom. It has become detached from its material and physical source and experienced as a secular version of a transcendental force. So now fear has become a Perspective accepted throughout society. Furedi claims that this perspective has acquired a dominant status because in contrast to other options it appears to be singularly effective in influencing people’s behavior.
Society is trained to believe that the threats it faces are incalculable and cannot be controlled or regulated. The acceptance of this outlook has been paralleled by the cultivation of helplessness and passivity–all this has resulted in a redefinition of personhood. As a consequence we are constantly searching for new forms of security, both physical and ontological. What is the role of the media in promoting fear and who actually benefits from this culture of fear? These are some of the issues Furedi tackles and much more.