chapter  11
10 Pages

Moral Crusades: The Psychology of Fear

BySteven Starker

The media have been branded as potent sources of physical, psychological, and moral deterioration, sufficiently powerful to overcome the beneficial effects of family life, education, and religion. Mass media innovations inevitably have challenged well-established cognitive patterns and practices. The specifics of mass media innovation, it seems, were relatively unimportant in shaping the public response, except insofar as all provided an opportunity for vivid imaginai experiences. One quality of mass media that threatened feelings of control was intrusiveness. The anxiety generated by the psychosocial challenges of media innovation repeatedly has led significant numbers of people to turn upon it, to brand it as evil. Threats to cognition, control, and defense were compounded by threats to social class. The original "crusades" were military expeditions undertaken by the Christian nations in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries to win the Holy Land from Islam. As a diffuse, undirected type of fear it cries out for definition and structure.