Fear and Politics

• Altheide (2017)- fear as a means of exerting social control.

– The ‘politics of fear as “Decision makers’ promotion and use of audience beliefs and assumptions about danger, risk and fear in order to achieve certain goals.”

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– Society grows to accept danger and threat in multiple ways. Fear becomes familiar but not normalized.

• Debrix and Barder (2009)- Fear in relation to politics, power and sovereignty

– Hobbes

• Sovereign power founded primarily on subjects’ fear of violent death via the State of Nature

• Key function of the sovereign is to unite a citizenry in common defence and to retain the monopoly on force and violence

– Schmitt

• Sovereign power founded also on subjects’ fear of the State itself. The state must consolidate power (through fear) to retain control.

• Sovereign power actually defined as

1) Having the ability to determine the exception to law;

2) Having the ability to define who is friend and who is foe

• Debrix and Barder (2009)- Fear in relation to politics, power and sovereignty

– Foucault

• Sovereign power is also disciplinary power: the pervasive power to compel subjects to participate in their own governance.

• The state has biopower, which operates in the every day.

• Sovereign power thus founded on subjects’ fear of losing their ability to live their ‘normal,’ ‘good; and ‘full’ lives.

• This biopower operates via governmentality: mechanisms, institutions and practices where procedures of government (including formally ‘non-political’ knowledges and institutions) come together to organize social life.

• With this comes the fear of fear itself.

• Politics and the state actually rely on fear


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