What is the summary for Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, first it is important to realize that the full title of Glassner’s book can tell us a lot about the subject at hand.  It is an incredibly long title: The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plane Crashes, Road Rage, & So Much More.  Glassner’s book is an especially poignant look at current events happening around the world.

Glassner writes about how our fear is not based on reality, but rather is molded and constructed through various media.  The actual level of risk in our lives has not increased, however our perception of the risk of danger is much greater.  Glassner asserts that three out of four Americans feel more fearful today than 20 years ago.  This is the case even when statistics show a decrease in crime rates.

Glassner later talks about different political groups or political action committees that create fear by increasing attention on subjects such as crime, drug use, and terrorism.  Companies who have a vested interest in creating fear around a certain disease (such as a pharmaceutical company) may increase our perception of danger though advertising.

Exaggeration surrounds the culture of fear in our society, especially through media. Because of the way we are manipulated by various organizations or political groups or candidates, the increased sense of danger creates the perception that the world is a much more dangerous place than in actuality.  Glassner succeeds in making this clear in his book The Culture of Fear.