Last Common Hour of Semester Discusses Fear

The last Common Hour of the semester was delivered by Dr. Frank Furedi on Monday, Apr. 16. While the session ran at the regular 12:00-1:00 p.m. interval, another session took place at 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Dr. Furedi is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. He currently has 20 published books and has made appearances on U.K. TV and radio including Sky, BBC News and more.

His first session dealt with his upcoming book, “The Rules of Fear in 21st Century Society,” examining the distinctive features of the culture of fear in the present time. He looked at the change in perception of fear over time and how fear has become a negative aspect of life compared to what it was previously. These days, we have become a “Stay Safe” society, oriented around safety, security and stability in everyday life. This is exemplified by Furedi as he remarked on his first job as being a 9-year-old paper boy, which is almost unheard of in our current society. Furedi additionally discussed Plato and his suggestion that censoring passages would keep soldiers immune to or minimize fear or to fear the right things.

The previous notion of fear was mentioned frequently in the Bible, becoming one of the most common words used. The Bible mentions what and what to fear and what not to fear, i.e. fearing God and not your enemy. From this, people can draw wisdom and strength revealing fear to be a positive attribute.

At the turn of the 20th century, the notion of fear changed as society became less religious. Fear is now arbitrary as different generations fear different things: old age, unemployment, nuclear war, etc. Furedi concluded that fear has become a dividing factor as it promotes uncertainty, anxiety and division. An example of this new concept of fear looks towards the police, as the police main job is to deal with crime and lower the fear of crime. In modern society people are now fearful of the perception of crime, rather than the crime itself.

In Furedi’s second session, he lectured about “Socialization and the Culture of Fear,” particularly focusing on the relationship between the youth and adults of today. Furedi mentioned his childhood in Hungary, comparing his childhood and the one that his children have received in the U.K. Furthermore, he mentioned the difference in child rearing. One day, as he read a book while his children played on the playground, strangers would come up to him and asked if he knew his children were in the sand pit or on the monkey bars. Furedi was astonished at how sensitive and overprotective the world had become.

Through these examples he explored the effects of contemporary socialization on the way that society expresses its fears about the problems of everyday life.

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