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Be Very AfraidThe Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730872.001.0001

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Perilous Times

Perilous Times

Chapter:
(p.7) One Perilous Times
Source:
Be Very Afraid
Author(s):

Robert Wuthnow (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730872.003.0001

This chapter argues that peril has become manageable only to the extent that large-scale organizations are considered capable of managing it. Individuals may imagine that their chances of survival are greater if they have a basement bomb shelter than if they do not; but in reality, few people build such shelters because they know the effect will be minuscule compared to the ability of people in power to start or avoid a nuclear holocaust. Having come to that realization about nuclear destruction, the ordinary person adopts a similar response to other threats. Terrorism, environmental threats, mass disease: all depend on the hope that experts somewhere will provide answers.

Keywords:   peril, denial, problem solving, threats, large-scale organizations

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