Fear is characteristic of our contemporary era, in which there is a surge of right-wing populist in Europe, fatigue-induced depression among normal people is on the rise, and there is a widespread perception that capitalism is in a state of crisis. Fear is the manifestation of a notion that the foundations of society are unsteady. The majority, which still votes in public elections and sends its kids to schools that ensure them access to universities, views its social status and its future as threatened. There is a sense of being thrown into a world that one no longer owns.
Using the concept of fear as a guide to contemporary experience, Heinz Bude explores a society that has to deal with unsettling uncertainty, swallowed anger, and unexpressed bitterness. These feelings pertain to close interpersonal relationships, the world of work, engagement with political options, and how one deals with financial services. Stock market crises, impenetrable data networks, data storage: all these concepts engender fear. But we continue to surf the web and climb into the stock market roller coaster again as soon as an opportunity to make money appears to come our way.
This angst is not so much a fear of the »big Other «. It is a fear of one’s own seemingly endless set of opportunities—the opportunities that seduce us. What increasingly elicits fear in the wake of the crises of capitalism and its function and legitimation is the image of self-regulative systems based on the responses and decisions of the individuals involved.
What are the social developments that people feel they are at the mercy of? When do they feel abandoned, patronized, or ignored? How can we resist fear? And in what rituals and discourses can we reach an understanding with others about mutual fears?