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Fear Itself: The Causes and Consequences of Fear in America (Paperback)
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An antidote to the culture of fear that dominates modern lifeFrom moral panics about immigration and gun control to anxiety about terrorism and natural disasters, Americans live in a culture of fear. While fear is typically discussed in emotional or poetic terms--as the opposite of courage, or as an obstacle to be overcome--it nevertheless has very real consequences in everyday life. Persistent fear negatively effects individuals' decision-making abilities and causes anxiety, depression, and poor physical health. Further, fear harms communities and society by corroding social trust and civic engagement. Yet politicians often effectively leverage fears to garner votes and companies routinely market unnecessary products that promise protection from imagined or exaggerated harms. Drawing on five years of data from the Chapman Survey of American Fears--which canvasses a random, national sample of adults about a broad range of fears--Fear Itself offers new insights into what people are afraid of and how fear affects their lives. The authors also draw on participant observation with Doomsday preppers and conspiracy theorists to provide fascinating narratives about subcultures of fear. Fear Itself is a novel, wide-ranging study of the social consequences of fear, ultimately suggesting that there is good reason to be afraid of fear itself.
About the Author
Ann Gordon is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Ludie and David C. Henley Social Science Research Laboratory, Chapman University. L. Edward Day is Associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Chapman University. He is Co-PI of the ongoing Chapman Survey of American Fears. Christopher D. Bader is Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and affiliated with the Institute for Religion, Economics and Culture (IRES). He is Associate Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (www.theARDA.com) and principal investigator on the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, as well as coauthor of Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture, second edition (also available from NYU Press). Joseph O. Baker is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at East Tennessee State University and a senior research associate for the Association of Religion Data Archives.