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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Social Construction of the "Soviet Threat": A Study in the Politics of Representation, Working Paper No. 10, First Annual Conference on Discourse, Peace, Security, and International Society


"The Soviet threat" has provided a frame of reference for American politics since shortlyafter the end of World War II. Demonstrating, measuring, and responding to "the threat" have been subjects of intense concern and debate. The reality of "the threat" has been taken for granted. The paper examines the origins and reproduction of the Soviet threat" in American politics. This is not an analysis of whether or not the threat is or has been "real." Rather, it is a study of how Americans have come to regard it as real. The distinction is crucial: we are dealing with the sociology of knowledge and the politics of representation. We are interested in seeing how and why a society constructs an enemy.

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