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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

(p.7) One Perilous Times
Be Very Afraid

Robert Wuthnow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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