Freaking Out


Freaking Out

A Decade of Living with Terrorism

Joshua Woods

192 pages


January 2012


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eBook (PDF)
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March 2012


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About the Book

After 9/11, research on the perceived threat of terrorism moved in several directions. Some scholars examined the social construction of terrorism, scrutinizing the political rhetoric and media coverage associated with the threat. Other researchers investigated the public’s elevated worries about terrorism and their effect on public opinion, while still other analysts elucidated the post-9/11 changes in U.S. foreign and domestic policies. In Freaking Out: A Decade of Living with Terrorism, Joshua Woods unites these areas of research, interweaving the sociology and psychology of terrorism, to create a broader and more compelling explanation of how the attacks on 9/11 have changed American society. Offering a concise review of the shifting policy arena in the post-9/11 era, Woods chronicles not only major U.S. government actions, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also less visible changes, such as shifts in immigration policy and the use and abuse of Homeland Security funding by state and local governments. Investigating the public’s response to terrorism, Woods examines the link between media coverage of terrorism and public perceptions of the threat, demonstrating how some news coverage elevates people’s worries more than others. The events of 9/11 influenced the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of public officials, members of the press, and ordinary people. The reactions of these groups are deeply interrelated, but the study of them has remained isolated and compartmentalized across several academic disciplines until now. Demonstrating the virtue of multidisciplinary synthesis, this book advances the growing field of terrorism studies in new directions.

Author Bio

Joshua Woods is an assistant professor of sociology at West Virginia University. He is the editor of America: Sovereign Defender or Cowboy Nation? (Ashgate, 2005). He lives in Morgantown, West Virginia.


"Freaking Out is very well written, very educational, and very carefully researched. It shows how public opinion in both the United States and other countries responded to the events of 9/11 and how the mass media, the speeches, and the actions of U.S. government officials influenced public opinion. Unlike many books written by academicians, Freaking Out encourages reading with its engaging writing style. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good understanding of responses to this event.”—Stan Kaplowitz, professor of sociology, Michigan State University

"Freaking Out is an exceptional piece of sociological analysis coupled with journalistic insight into an important and on-going issue—one that has not only defined a new generation but continues to shape the lives of millions of people—both inside the United States and around the world. A must read for academics and the public alike."—Christopher Oliver, lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky

Freaking Out is an extraordinary literary contribution on the topic of terrorism. In it Woods crisscrosses back and forth between academic disciplines, changing lenses from psychology to sociology to political science and communications studies and back again to provide an incredibly insightful look at the effects of 9/11 and the U.S. response to it. The book is very well researched, meticulously documented, and fun to read."—James J. Nolan, associate professor of sociology, West Virginia University