Fear In and About Education

  • Carolyn Jackson


Fear and anxiety are pervasive in schools. Indeed, research by psychologists reveals that anxiety is the emotion reported most often by students (see, e.g. Pekrun et al.’s 2002 discussion of their numerous studies in Germany). It is surprising then that in spite of its prevalence in schools, and despite the fact that fear has received increased attention within sociology generally, fear and anxiety have been relatively neglected by sociologists of education (Jackson, 2010a; Zembylas, 2009). Yet, it behoves us as sociologists of education to seek to understand fear. As the Mental Health Foundation (2009, p. 13) points out: ‘understanding how fear works, and how we can better relate to it could make an enormous difference to health and well-being in our society, not to mention enlarging individuals’ potential for living, learning and growing’. Relatedly, understanding how fears operate is important for developing theories and practices to promote social justice: fear is used to sustain hierarchies (Robin, 2004), so we need to understand how fear operates in this way if we are to challenge it.


Test Anxiety Defensive Strategy Academic Failure Business Elite Academic Emotion 
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Suggestions for further reading

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Copyright information

© Carolyn Jackson 2013

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  • Carolyn Jackson

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