The History of Fear

The Institute of Art and Ideas


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From terror attacks to paedophilia, our era is in thrall to fear. Throughout history, the fears of a society have defined the people who live in it. In this course, Professor Frank Furedi confronts the causes of our anxieties and uncovers what they say about the way we live now. Can we combat the culture of fear?

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

why the globalised world has become paralysed by fear
what the cultural script we use to explain our fears says about our society
how cultures managed to deal with atrocities such as Hiroshima, and why ours would fail
why fear arises and how it can be combatted
the reasons behind our fascination with the apocalypse.

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, discussion boards to have your say and suggested further readings set by Professor Furedi to stimulate a deeper exploration of the topic.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

Important information

Where and when

Starts Location

What you'll learn on the course

History of Fear
Citizens of Fear
Nuclear Holocaust
Social Panic

Course programme

Course Syllabus
  • Part One: A Brief History of FearHow have we arrived in an age of fear? Can we accurately assess the dangers we face?
  • Part Two: Citizens of FearFrom witchcraft to nuclear holocaust, how do fears escalate into social panic?
  • Part Three: Inner StatesWhy are uncertainties – from strangers to relationships – internalised as fear?

Suggested Further Readings

A selection of further readings has been suggested by Professor Furedi as part of this course. 

Explore Further

Our editors have brought together a range of content from across which explore the ideas in this course.

About the Instructor
  • Frank Furedi

    Author of The Politics of Fear, Hungarian-born Frank Furedi was the founder and chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and is the most cited sociologist in the UK press.