on 19 November 2002
Frank Furedi is a professor of Sociology at the University of Kent at Cantebury. Scared yet? Well you shouldn't be! The Culture of Fear is a nicely written book which flows easily from chapter to chapter. It is an interesting and thought provoking read, if not a little worrying at times. If we thought through every risk that we could encounter during the course of a day, I am sure we would never get of out bed!
The introduction/preface gives a nice outline of the book, which is written in plain English while still managing to get its point across. Furedi discusses briefly some risky ideas and areas of life which we are scared of. He draws on very up to date examples including, deep vein thrombosis, BSE/CJD and September 11th to name but a few. Using such up to date examples helps to put the ideas that he uses later in the book into context.
Chapter one is entitled 'The Explosion of Risk' and it aims to identify what this concern about risk represents. Furedi makes a valid point that often our perception of risk has little to do with the likelihood of it.
Chapter two asks the question 'Why Do We Panic?". If you were to take everything that was written in the papers at face value, then it would seem that we have very good reason to panic. Furedi again relies on real life examples in this chapter to make his point and I think this works very well. His examples range from scares about peanut allergies to fears raised over oral contraception
Chapter three moves past general risks in society and focuses on something that does scare a lot of people but perhaps does not affect as many as we think. 'Culture of Abuse' talks about the normalisation of abuse and the morbid expectation that just about every home has a potential abuser within its walls
It is the world of 'Risky Strangers' that we seem to live in that is the focus of chapter four. The idea that society is full of people who err on the side of caution and do not take risks is bought to the forefront.
Chapter five begs the question 'Who Can You Trust?" and going by previous chapters you would be forgiven for thinking that answer is no-one!. Furedi blames the increase in consultancy and individualism for the lack of trust that we feel for people
The New Etiquette' of political correctness is discussed in chapter six. Furedi talks about our drift into a more secular age. He claims that it is an age where 'healthiness has replaced godliness'
Furedi has a lively and upbeat style of writing that does keep you interested and the examples he uses within his book illustrates his points very well. They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but in this case you can. The image of men in anti nuclear suits sets the scene for a book which could strike the fear of god into anyone. There are potential risks and dangers everywhere and things that you should be scared of, reading this book however is not one of them!