• Frank Furedi
  • Frank Furedi
  • Sociologist, commentator and author
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How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the 21st Century
 

How Fear Works

Publisher’s blurb

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 the unravelling 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 politicisation 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 peoples behaviour. 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.

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More books
The Social Cost of Litigation

The Social Cost of Litigation

In The Social Cost of Litigation, Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow show that far from increasing safety and accountability, the culture of litigation has resulted in significant costs to the quality of services, the experience of those who use them, and the role of professionals.

Download the report here [pdf, 274kb]

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Moral Crusades in an Age of Mistrust: The Jimmy Savile Scandal

Moral Crusades in an Age of Mistrust: The Jimmy Savile Scandal

Moral Crusades in an Age of Mistrust examines the sociological meaning of the sudden transformation of Jimmy Savile, the cultural icon, into the personification of evil. The epidemic of scandals unleashed by the Savile Scandal highlights the precarious status of relations of trust. The rapid escalation of this crisis offers insights into the relationship between anxieties about childhood and the wider moral order. This exploration of the emergence of a moral crusade explains why western society has become so uncomfortable with the exercise of authority.

This is a work of public sociology that seeks to explore the social dimensions of a cultural drama as it unfolds. Through situating this scandal in a wider historical perspective this study outlines the distinctive features of a twenty-first-century moral crusade.

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On Tolerance: In Defence of Moral Independence

On Tolerance: In Defence of Moral Independence

Outwardly, we live in an era that appears more open-minded, non-judgemental and tolerant than in any time in human history. The very term intolerant invokes moral condemnation. We are constantly reminded to understand the importance of respecting different cultures and diversities. In this pugnacious new book, Frank Furedi argues that despite the democratisation of public life and the expansion of freedom, society is dominated by a culture that not only tolerates but often encourages intolerance. Often the intolerance is directed at people who refuse to accept the conventional wisdom and who are stigmatised as ‘deniers’. Frequently intolerance comes into its own in clashes over cultural values and lifestyles. People are condemned for the food they eat, how they parent and for wearing religious symbols in public. This book challenges the ‘quiet mood of tolerance’ towards morally stigmatised forms of behaviors. The author examines recent forms of ‘unacceptable behaviour’. It will tease out the real motives and drivers of intolerance.

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Wasted: Why Education Isn’t Educating

Wasted: Why Education Isn't Educating

The valuation of education as something that is important in its own right is the precondition for it to flourish. One of the principal characteristics of education is its lack of interest in an ulterior purpose. That does not mean that it is uninterested in developments affecting children and society: it means that it regards the transmission of cultural and intellectual achievements of humanity to children as its defining mission. Once society is able to affirm an education system that values itself and the acquisition of knowledge, policymakers and the public can begin to envisage the practical steps required to go forward.

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Licensed to Hug

Licensed to Hug

This book argues that the dramatic escalation of child protection measures has succeeded in poisoning the relationship between the generations, creating an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children.

Children need to have contact with a range of adult members of the community for their education and socialisation, but as Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow argue, ‘this form of collaboration, which has traditionally underpinned intergenerational relationships, is now threatened by a regime that insists that adult/child encounters must be mediated through a security check’.

In the UK, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 requires that, from October 2009, 11.3million people - over one quarter of the adult population of England - must have their criminal records checked in order to work, even as a volunteer.

Instead of creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, Licensed to Hug suggests that we need to ‘halt the juggernaut of regulation’ and, instead, behave as if the majority of adults have no predatory attitudes towards children but, on the contrary, can be relied on to help them.

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