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Architecture of Fear examines the ways in which the contemporary landscape is shaped by our society's preoccupation with fear, as apparent in home design, security systems, gated communities, semi-public spaces (shopping malls, theme parks, casinos, office atriums), zoning regulations, and cyberspace. This fixation also manifests itself in efforts to provide public parks but control the problem of homelessness. The essayists in Architecture of Fear explain that such disjointed efforts exacerbate rather than eradicate the sources and perception of fear and insecurity. Thus, in contrast to alarmist, apocalyptic treatments, the contributors offer concrete, level-headed suggestions for proaction, not reaction, to counter both real (actual crime) and perceived (media-magnified) problems in contemporary society.

Contributors Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder, John Chase, Michael Dear and Jurgen von Mahs, Fred Dewey, Nan Ellin, Dora Epstein, Steven Flusty, Udo Greinacher, Jane Harrison, Richard Ingersoll, Charles Jencks, Peter Marcuse, Kevin Sites, Sharon Sutton, Lois Takahashi, Anne Troutman, David Turnbull, Margaret Wertheim, Richard Sennett, and Julius Shulman approach the topic of architecture and fear from a variety of angles: "Building Paranoia," "Addressing Fear through Community Empowerment," "Cyburbanism as a Way of Life," and "Walls of Fear and Walls of Support," to name just a few.