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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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What to Mobilize Against

What to Mobilize Against

(p.47) Three What to Mobilize Against
Be Very Afraid

Robert Wuthnow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that the highly institutionalized response to nuclear peril minimized what ordinary people could reasonably expect to do but also shaped the grassroots response that did occur. Although public involvement waxed and waned, there was a noticeable increase over the years in the technical sophistication of advocacy groups. By the 1980s, even though the very survival of humanity remained at issue, most discussions dealt with arms treaties, the merits of particular weapons, a freeze that would keep the nuclear arsenal from growing (but not eliminate it), and questions about the safety of proposed and existing nuclear reactors. With so much of the nuclear debate decided by policy makers and advocacy groups, the residual sphere of moral responsibility assigned to the average person was quite small, and for the most part scripted by officials and other leaders. Focusing on the routine problems of daily life shielded the public from having to accept the more ambitious challenges they may have been expected to undertake, and avoided the disruption that may have occurred.

Keywords:   peril, nuclear threat, danger, protection, anti-nuclear movement

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