The most recent comprehension exercise my students had to do was based on a passage adapted from this article by Frank Furedi, entitled 'The Market in Fear', first published in Spiked, 26 September 2005.
I had told my classes that I will post some background on the passage on this blog. The article from which the passage is modified is accompanied in Spiked by the following biographical information on Furedi:
- A professor of sociology at the University of Kent, UK.
- His new book, The Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right, is published by Continuum.
- He was scheduled to speak at the free public debate 'Reflections on the Future: Thinking Politically in the Twenty-First Century' at the CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue in New York on 30 September 2005
The article also links to NY Salon's Web site, which carries the information on the debate mentioned above and more biographical information on Furedi, along with that of the other two speakers at the debate. The announcement calls all three speakers "thinkers in the best tradition of the 'public intellectual'; accessible to a general audience, but also rigorous and profound", and also notes that Furedi has written about movements against politics in both private and public life.
Wikipedia says that Furedi was born in Hungary in the article on the culture of fear.
The Culture of Fear
The same Wikipedia article also provides the names of other social commentators who have discussed the culture of fear. Perhaps the better known among them are linguist Noam Chomsky and political filmmaker Michael Moore.
The NY Salon announcement page carries a summarised version of 'The Market in Fear' article. Although it is longer than the passage produced for the comprehension exercise, I believe it may be easier to understand, especially since the key ideas are made obvious with a bold typeface.
The Wikipedia article serves as a good primer to the various formulations of the concept and the examples used for its illustration.
Application: The culture of fear in Singapore
Considering the big names who use this concept, it is probably not surprising that local politicians and commentators have used it in discussing Singapore politics. A Google search using the terms "culture of fear" and Singapore brings up an ample list of articles. A brief survey of the first two pages of search results reveals that as far back as 1999, the culture of fear has been used to describe Singapore political culture by sources sympathetic to opposition politicians. A closer study is necessary to ascertain if the same concept is used in these articles as how Furedi describes it, since as the Wikipedia article shows, it has had a few variants, depending on the user.