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The Social Ontology of Fear and Neoliberalism

Wrenn, Mary V.

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Mary Wrenn
Senior Lecturer in Economics


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. © 2014 © 2014 The Association for Social Economics.


Wrenn, M. V. (2014). The Social Ontology of Fear and Neoliberalism. Review of Social Economy, 72(3), 337-353.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Jun 18, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 21, 2019
Journal Review of Social Economy
Print ISSN 0034-6764
Electronic ISSN 1470-1162
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 72
Issue 3
Pages 337-353
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Review of Social Economy on 18th June 2014, available online:


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