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Chasing PhantomsReality, Imagination, and Homeland Security Since 9/11$
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Michael Barkun

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834701

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877692_barkun

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Experts, Narratives, and the Public

Experts, Narratives, and the Public

(p.119) Eight Experts, Narratives, and the Public
Chasing Phantoms

Michael Barkun

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the role stories play in situations of danger, and the way they function for both potential victims and outside experts. It also looks at the role of narrative more generally and the difference between two types of narratives, the narrative of centralized control and the narrative of emergent behavior. The manner in which these two narratives might be applied to terrorism is discussed, as is, more specifically, their application by terrorism experts to contemporary Islamic radicalism. The chapter, however, first needs to distinguish ordinary from extraordinary dangers. Ordinary dangers are not necessarily those that inflict less harm. In scale and destructiveness, ordinary dangers may still legitimately be considered disasters. However, their ordinariness lies in the fact that as a result of location, history, or other factors their appearance is predictable or can be readily anticipated.

Keywords:   stories, situations of danger, potential victims, outside experts, narrative, centralized control, emergent behavior

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