Frank Furedi

Professor of Sociology at University of Kent, and author of Politics of Fear, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?, Therapy Culture, Paranoid Parenting and Culture of Fear.
     
 
Books  
   

Invitation to Terror
(Continuum Press: October 2007)

Unlike in previous wars and conflicts, today our sense of terror precedes and extends beyond acts of terrorism. Official reaction is driven by a narrative of fear that invites us to regard terrorism as incomprehensible, senseless and beyond meaning. Such a response based on confusion authorises acts of speculation and fantasy as legitimate forms of threat assessment. This dramatisation of security transmits a sense of helplessness that inadvertently offers society's enemies an invitation to be terrorised.

Furedi believes that we lack an intellectual framework for confronting the fear of terrorism. The language we use betrays confusion about the threat we face and therefore undermines our capacity to engage with it. Those who pose the question of 'Why do they hate us?' are often unsure of who 'they' are. Even more unsettling is the realisation that many of us are less than certain about who 'we' are. In this startling and original book Frank Furedi engages with some of the most fundamental questions confronting society today.

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Read a review in the Times Higher Education Supplement.

   

Politics of Fear
(Continuum Press: September 2005)

The terms "left" and "right" pervade all our discussions of politics. But do they mean anything any more? And is it really satisfactory to reduce all our political debate to these two terms? This book shows how contemporary and recent developments, including the Cold War, the Culture Wars and Third Way-type managerialism, have created the need for a new conception of politics with an adequate conception of humanity - one that "remoralises" politics by taking humans seriously, recognises the centrality of morality and discussions of right and wrong, and utilises our imaginations. The book proposes a new, and inevitably controversial, humanist politics to escape the trap of 20th century political ideology.

Frank Furedi talks to Jennie Bristow about Politics of Fear

This book can be ordered from Amazon (UK).

   

Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism

second edition published by Continuum Press, October 2006

The Intellectual is an endangered species. In place of such figures as Bertrand Russell, Raymond Williams or Hannah Arendt - people with genuine learning, breadth of vision and a concern for public issues - we now have only facile pundits, think-tank apologists, and spin doctors. In the age of the knowledge economy, we have somehow managed to combine the widest ever participation in higher education with the most dumbed-down of cultures. In this urgent and passionate book, Frank Furedi explains the essential contribution of intellectuals both to culture and to democracy - and why we need to recreate a public sphere in which intellectuals and the general public can talk to each other again.

The first edition of this book met with urgent and volatile views – both in support and opposition to Furedi’s argument. Here, for the first time, he offers a candid and hard-hitting response to his critics.

read reviews of this book

read the press release for the new edition

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Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age

Published by Routledge, September 2003

Therapy Culture explores the powerful influence of therapeutic imperative in Anglo-American societies. In recent decades virtually every sphere of life has become subject to a new emotional culture. Professor Furedi suggests that the recent cultural turn toward the realm of the emotions coincides with a radical redefinition of personhood. Increasingly vulnerability is presented as the defining feature of people's psychology. Terms like people 'at risk', 'scarred for life' or 'emotional damage' evoke a unique sense of powerlessness.

Furedi questions the widely accepted thesis that the therapeutic turn represents an enlightened shift towards emotions. He claims that therapeutic culture is primarily about imposing a new conformity through the management of people's emotions. Through framing the problem of everyday life through the prism of emotions, therapeutic culture incites people to feel powerless and ill. Drawing on developments in popular culture, political and social life, Furedi provides a path-breaking analysis of the therapeutic turn.

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Paranoid Parenting

Published by Allen Lane, March 2001

Hardly a day goes by without parents being warned of a new danger to their children's well-being. High profile campaigns convince us that our childrens health, safety and development are constantly at risk. It is hardly surprising that parents become paranoid, afraid to let their children out of their sight. Even then, they are criticised by one childcare expert or another. It seems that parents can do nothing right. Parents do not know whom they can trust, but one thing is made clear to them - they cannot trust their own judgement.

Paranoid Parenting investigates contemporary parental anxieties and suggests that these fears are themselves the most damaging influence upon children in modern society. Children are actually physically safer than they have ever been before and perhaps more in danger from the conflicting advice handed out to parents by different generations of "childcare experts".

Frank Furedi explains why parents feel paranoid and looks at how they can deal with the insecurity which is fostered by experts and the media. He goes on to give examples and build a case for parents relying more on their own judgement and circumstances.

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[German version: Die Elternparanoia - buy this from Amazon (Deutschland)]

   

Culture of Fear

Updated edition published by Continuum, March 2002
(first published April 1997)

Fear has become an ever-expanding part of life in the West in the twenty-first century. We live in terror of disease, abuse, stranger danger, environmental devastation and terrorist onslaught. We are bombard with reports of new concerns for our safety and that of our children,and urged to take greater precautions and seek more protection. But compared to the past, or to the developing world, people in contemporary Western societies have much less familiarity with pain, suffering, debilitating disease and death. We actually enjoy an unprecedented level of personal safety.

When confronted with events like the destruction of the World Trade Centre, fear for the future is inevitable. But what happened on September 11th 2001 was in many ways an old fashioned act of terror, representing the destructive side of the human passions. Frank Furedi argues that the greater danger in our culture is the tendency to fear achievements representing a more constructive side of humanity. We panic about GM food, about genetic research, about the health dangers of mobile phones. The facts often fail to support the scare stories about new or growing risks to our health and safefy. Our obsession with theoretical risks is in danger of distracting society from dealing with the old-fashioned dangers that have always threatened our lives.

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The Silent War
Imperialism and the Changing Perception of Race

Published by Pluto Press, August 1998

Racial identity is one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century. In this study, Frank Furedi traces the history of Western colonial racist ideology and its role in the subjugation of the peoples of the non-West. His central theme is the changing perception of racism in the West and how the use of "race" has altered during the course of the 20th century.

Focusing on World War II as the crucial turning point in racist ideology, Furedi argues that the defeat of Nazism left the West uneasy with its own racist past. He assesses how this was redefined in the postwar period, especially during the Cold War, and demonstrates that although white supremacist views became obsolete in international affairs, Western nations sought to portray racism as a natural part of the human condition. As a result the West continued to adopt the moral high ground well into the postwar period, to the ultimate detriment of the nations of the non-West.

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Population and Development
A critical introduction

Published by Polity Press, August 1997

Many experts believe that population growth is the greatest threat facing humanity. Others argue that the link between population growth and insecurity is unproven. This book discusses both sides of this debate, examining the way the arguments have changed and evolved, and questioning the assumptions of the main protagonists. The book argues that the Western precoccupation with population growth reveals more about the internal concerns of Western societies than the socio-economic development of the south. It suggests that attempts to establish a causal link between increases in population and poverty lead to a pragmatic, even manipulative approach to the issue of development. Examining a broad range of key debates and controversies - the "population bomb" in Asia, the culture of a distinct regime of African fertility, the role of education in stabilizing population growth in Kerala - the author contends that the marginalization of the goal of development is the outcome of a narrow concern with population policies. He fears that the recent shift of the population agenda towards the problems of the environment, gender equality and reproductive health is informed by a similar opportunistic pragmatism. The book should be of interest to students and specialists in development studies, sociology, and population studies, and for anyone interested in the debates surrounding world population growth.

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Colonial Wars and the Politics of Third World Nationalism

Published by IB Tauris, February 1994

The crisis now facing many post-colonial societies has raised important questions about the nature of Third World nationalist movements and their struggle against Western domination. Histories of Britain's colonial past have tended to regard the process of decolonization as having taken place as a direct consequence of British policy, with the result that the influence of anti-colonial movements on British imperialism has been overlooked.

In a new interpretation of decolonization, the author of this book focuses on the way in which Britain reacted to the nationalist claims made by anti-colonial movements. With the weakening of imperial control from the 1930s onwards, the development of such movements in the 1940s was greatly boosted. Closely bound up with the central issue of political legitimacy, nationalism posed a powerful threat to colonial power. The author argues that by contesting the validity of nationalist claims made by anti-colonial movements, Britain attempted to discredit indigenous opposition in the colonies. Subsequent histories of decolonization have been profoundly influenced by the imperial view of Third World nationalism, and little attention has been paid to the way in which Third World nationalist movements helped to reshape British imperialism.

This study examines Britain's colonial wars in Malaysia, Kenya and Guyana within the wider framework of imperial politics. It discusses the intellectual orientation and propaganda techniques that Britain used to represent Third World nationalism. Combining the methods of comparative historical sociology and original fieldwork, Furedi draws on recently released archival sources from both sides of the Atlantic.

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The New Ideology of Imperialism: Renewing the Moral Imperative

Published by Pluto Press, 1994

During the 19th century vast areas of the underdeveloped world were invaded and colonized under the justification of anti-slavery and the civilizing mission. In this analysis, Furedi demonstrates how, in the late 20th century, the major nations of the West are again intervening in the Third World - this time legitimizing their action on new moral grounds.

The author's multidisciplinary study examines the language, nature and origins of the moral justification for such massive intervention. The author argues that, in the wake of the collapse of Soviet communism, the West now presents the Third World as the major threat to international stability, offering Western democracy and financial systems as the solution, thus providing a "new moral imperative" for rebuilding a viable imperialist ideology. The author examines this new anti-Third World view and concludes that we are experiencing the rehabilitation of the imperialist ideas that are depriving post colonial societies of their own moral authority.

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Mythical Past, Elusive Future

Published by Pluto Press, December 1991

An examination of the controversies that surround education, tradition and history in an international context. The author examines the sources of the controversy that have arisen around the question of history in Germany, Japan, Britain and the USA. He argues that the conventional distinctions between left and right, or conservative, liberal and socialist have little relevance to the discussion, suggesting that even bitter intellectual foes such as conservatives and the cultural left share common assumptions regarding the past and the nature of history.

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