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Essay. Fear in the Post‐Communist World

International Journal of Public Opinion Research , Volume 13 (1) – Mar 1, 2001


Oxford University Press
Copyright © 2001 Oxford University Press
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Essay. Fear in the Post‐Communist World


International Journal of Public Opinion Research Vol.  No.  –/ $. Essay FEAR IN THE POST-COMMUNIST WORLD Vladimir Shlapentokh The different fears in any given society reflect, in condensed forms, the various aspects of human life. This subject has been largely neglected in empirical, sociological studies. The number of sociologists who devoted their empirical studies to the subject of fear was limited. Fear itself was never really considered an important social phenomenon. Only in the studies of crowd behavior did fear become a main issue. Generally speaking, Samuel Prince’s () statement from seven decades ago still holds true today: Catastrophic thinking remains ‘a virgin field in sociology.’ We undertook a research project to deal with social fears that originated in social conditions. We did not look at individual, existential fears like the fear of death, or the fear of losing a beloved family member. It is generally accepted that fear is a mental construct that has been shaped by the hands of evolution and various external factors. The so-called ‘objective character’ of a perceived threat is crucial, but it represents only one of these factors.1 The author rejects both extremes in the treatment of fears: ‘naive realism’
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