The UK Study About “Doomsday Preppers” and “America’s Culture of Fear” Has It All Wrong by Daisy Luther for The Organic Prepper
You may have seen some headlines about a new study that says “doomsday prepping” is increasing in the United States because of our “culture of fear.” There are several things to know about this study to understand that they have it all wrong.
First, they don’t understand who preppers are.
Allow me to start with the description of prepping in general. Here’s how the report on the study opens.
“Doomsday prepping” or stockpiling food, medicine, weapons, and other supplies in case of an apocalyptic scenario has long been considered peculiar behavior only exhibited by conspiracy theorists and other extremists in the United States. (source)
I suppose they’ve never heard of wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or even simple power outages over there in Canterbury, England where they wrote this article. I guess nobody over there ever loses his or her job or has a massive personal financial catastrophe and has to rely on the food that has been put back for a rainy day. I guess in their ivory academic tower they haven’t heard of Brexit but if they have the supply line difficulty that has been predicted, they’re darn sure going to wish they knew more about prepping.
The study seems to focus only on political extremists.
The study itself is out of Cambridge University and it is entitled Obamageddon: Fear, the Far Right, and the Rise of “Doomsday” Prepping in Obama’s America. Here’s the abstract.
This article examines the politics of American “doomsday” prepping during Barack Obama’s presidency. It challenges claims that growing interest in prepping post-2008 arose exclusively from extreme apocalyptic, white supremacist, and anti-government reactions to Obama’s electoral successes – claims that suggest prepping to be politically congruent with previous waves of extreme right-wing American “survivalism.” Drawing on ethnography, this paper argues that, while fears of Obama have been central to many preppers’ activities, much of their prepping under his presidency centred on fears that sit outside survivalist politics. Building on this, the article illuminates connections between prepping and America’s twenty-first-century electoral mainstream. Engaging with discussions about the “remaking” of American conservatism during Obama’s presidency, it particularly frames prepping’s growth as being engaged with, and shaped by, currents of mainstream anti-Obama fear that similarly undergirded the Tea Party’s rise within popular Republicanism at this time. (source)
The bibliography paints quite a picture.
I’m too cheap to pay Cambridge £25 to read the entire thing. And-omg-what-if-I-end-up-on-a-list? (sarc.) You can learn a lot from the bibliography, though. Many of the sources they cite are mainstream sources that have been mocking preppers for decades. Some of the articles I recall reading myself and rolling my eyes.
- Tim Murphy, “Preppers Are Getting Ready for the Barackalypse,” Mother Jones, Jan–Feb. 2013, at www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/11/preppers-survivalist-doomsday-obama;
- Caitlin Dewey, “Inside the Fascinating, Bizarre World of ‘Prepper Pinterest’,” Washington Post, 1 Sept. 2015, at www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/01/inside-the-fascinating-bizarre-world-of-prepper-pinterest/?utm_term=.54c6ade2cd81.
- Chad Huddleston, “‘Doomsday Preppers’: Our New Threat?”, 16 Jan. 2013, at https://blog.americananthro.org/tag/chad-huddleston.
- Lamy, Philip, Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy(London: Plenium Press, 1996) CrossRef | Google Scholar
- Barkun, Michael, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
- David Morris, “What I Saw at the Doomsday Prepper Convention,” Fortune, 11 Nov. 2013, at http://fortune.com/2013/11/11/what-i-saw-at-the-doomsday-prepper-convention.
You get the idea. They just went online and searched “crazy doomsday preppers” or something like that and came up with these articles and probably got a hefty grant to do this “research.” And we all know that the mainstream media loves to paint us as lunatics.
How the authors of this study see preppers
First, they seem to feel the need to add the word doomsday in front of the word preppers because that gives them the oomph for which they’re looking. The citations of the study said they chose respondents from six websites.