I received in the mail today a book entitled The Culture of Fear. Its subtitle is, “Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things,” and its sub-subtitle (following the colon after the subtitle), “Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plan Crashes, Road Rage, & So Much More”. A veritable mouthful.
The book has been on my wishlist for some time now, but with all the craziness and confusion surrounding H1N1.* I thought it would be a good time to read the book (over Christmas hopefully).
This book belongs in the category of sociology, which is becoming a bit of a hobby interest of mine, in terms of reading. “Social commentary” might be a better term; it sounds less clinical and academic. Or maybe “Cultural Studies”. But I digress.
I’ve read a couple of interesting books in this category: Bill McKibben’s The Age of Missing Information; Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation; and Ferenc Mate’s Reasonable Life. To an extent the books of Bill Bryson fit into this category, as do the films The Corporation and Supersize Me.
Other books of this nature I’ve picked up over the years (but have not yet read):
- Hello, I’m Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity by Hal Niedzviecki
- Trust Us, We’re Experts!: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
- No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies by Naomi Klein
- Nation of Rebels (published in the U.S. as The Rebel Sell, I think. It’s a sort of response/rebuttal of No Logo)
- In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Changing the Culture of Speed by Carl Honore
Some of these books may be a getting a bit too close to the genre of conspiracy theory (I’m thinking in particular ofTrust Us, We’re Experts), but sociology/social commentary is a broad genre, I think, and includes the likes of both Michael Moore (on the left–also, arguably, a conspiracy theorist) and people not so on the left (I had an example earlier in the day, but it escapes me now).
The Culture of Fear should be an interesting read. I’ll let you know.**
*including, apparently, the suggestion that I’m being selfish if I don’t get vaccinated: so now it’s not just the fear of the flu, but also the fear of how people perceive me!
**Of course, it’s the middle of November, so by the time Christmas rolls around I may have different reading plans–such as reading next semester’s books in advance!