How Fear Works
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 9:00AM
Dads on the Air in 2019, False Allegations, International Perspectives, Media Representation of Males, Misinformation, Relationships

With special guest:

Frank Furedi says that fear is the principal motivating force in the 21st Century.

We see fear being used by all sides in politics; we see it in the family dynamic; we see it in the young with their fear of missing out (or FOMO). And yet at the same time we do not call it out because to some degree we have been sensitised to its operation.

Once an expert like our guest today points out the use of fear we can see it everywhere and if it is not going to take over our lives completely we need to take some time-honoured steps to counter its influence.

As Frank Furedi tells us, fear can be distinguished from anxiety which is also a major problem in the Western world with so much of the population in the grip of anxiety and depression.

And the language used is important. We casually use expressions such a “future proofing” something which means protection from something that could be harmful when the future could also be seen as an opportunity. What about saying something is a “time bomb?” Whereas fear in previous times could be a positive in expressions such as “God fearing” it has become totally negative as has the word “risk”. Whereas risk used to be something to be evaluated before a decision was made on balance, now risk is to be avoided at all costs.

One of the main exposures of this world of fear came in the inauguration speech of Franklin D Roosevelt in his inauguration speech of 1933. He said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. And for many of us this is true. We live in times of unprecedented wealth and security yet people are worried about terrorism, climate change and Brexit.

Fear can have the effect of stopping healthy activity. Whereas parents once encouraged children to play outside now parents are too worried about “stranger danger” and other dangers which can result in children staying inside and playing with their electronic toys. Of course this now has its own dangers.

The use of fear is rampant with political decisions and the reasons are pretty simple, it is easy and it works. The problem with Brexit fear campaigns was that both sides weaponised fear - so how to pick or do we just fear everything?

And advertisers have seized on an anti-male fear in advertisements such as the recent Gillette ad on which Professor Furedi has written and which we get to discuss.

What to do in this environment? Frank Furedi’s new book How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the 21st Century sets out for us the age-old remedies of knowledge, courage, duty and judgement. This is such an important and topical subject and our eloquent guest is not to be missed.

Prof Frank Furedi

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and social commentator. He was formerly Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. He is author of 17 full-length books including:

Paranoid Parenting (2001), Allen Lane (The Penguin Press)
Where have All The Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting 21st Century Philistinism(2005), Continuum
Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right (2005), Continuum

Since the late 1990s, Frank has been widely cited about his views on why Western societies find it so difficult to engage with risk and uncertainty. He has published widely about controversies relating to issues such as health, parenting children, food and new technology. Frank has also written extensively about issues to do with education and cultural life.

Song selection by our guest: Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty

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