This thoughtful text demonstrates how the mass media constructs a politics of fear in the United States. Using a social interactionist perspective, the chapters examines such issues as the expansion of surveillance on the Internet, the construction of a terrorism-fighting hero to promote patriotism, the use of social media by terror groups, the fear of the other fostered by the refugee crisis and western radicalization, as well as the mass-mediated reaction to recent terrorist attacks. Also covered are the politics of fear involving disease (Ebola, Zika), social control efforts, and harsh attacks on American governmental officials for not keeping people safe from harm. All chapters in this new edition have been updated with descriptions and relevant analysis of significant events, including two Israeli-Hamas wars, terrorism attacks (e.g., Boston Marathon, Charlie Hebdo, San Bernadino, etc.), global reactions-often hostility-to refugees in the United States and especially Europe, the development of ISIS, surveillance (Wiki Leaks, Snowden, NSA), and the growing significance of social media.
The text explains how the social construction of fear is used to steer public and foreign policy, arguing that security policies to protect the citizenry from violence have become control systems that most often curtail privacy and civil liberties.
David Altheide is Regents' Professor Emeritus on the faculty of Justice and Social Inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University.
1. Introduction 2. The Social Reality of Fear 3. The Mass Media as a Social Institution 4. Crime and Terrorism 5. Consuming Terrorism 6. Terrorism and the Politics of Fear 7. Mediated Interaction and the Control Narrative of the Internet 8. Propaganda of Fear, The Iraq War, and The Islamic State 9. Constructing Heroes: Pat Tillman and Chris Kyle 10. Conclusion: Beyond the Politics of Fear