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The Social Ontology of Fear and Neoliberalism


  • Mary V. Wrenn


Fear is a primal instinct; it is a survival mechanism the evolution of which allowed the early humans, indeed all species to adapt, evolve, and survive. When humans moved into settled communities with more advanced means of production, the nature of fear-much like the nature of social relationships-changed. Once the means of social reproduction were secured, fear became less necessary as a survival instinct and more useful as a heuristic device. Fear evolved. Fear cannot be characterized solely as a socially constructed phenomenon, nor as the instinctual response to personally felt traumas. The growth and nature of fear must be studied as a process that develops under its own inertia, feeding off its antecedent past, and as a phenomenon that is shaped by and in turn shapes its institutional setting. Fear should be understood as both structurally determined and socially transformative. This research seeks to examine the ontology of fear, specifically as it relates to neoliberalism.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary V. Wrenn, 2014. "The Social Ontology of Fear and Neoliberalism," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 72(3), pages 337-353, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:72:y:2014:i:3:p:337-353
    DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2014.927726

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