This chapter highlights the importance of the subject matter of the book and situates the approach and contribution in the fields of International Relations and Political Psychology. While spending on national security in the UK since 2001 has more than tripled to £3.5 billion (Cabinet Office, 2008), it remains unclear how the objectives of the National Security Strategy are received by the British public, whether they are aware of and/or understand those objectives, and if they feel more or less ‘secure’ as a result of their existence. One aspect of this lacuna is a broader lack of social scientific research, including a tendency within security studies to focus on elite perceptions and constructions of security threat. Another is a lack of understanding of the political psychology of different threat perceptions, of the kinds of information and communications that heighten or reduce sense of threat when there are multiple existing threats, as opposed to singular threats from international terrorism or immigration, and of the consequences of different threat perceptions for other political attitudes and behaviours. Having discussed these problems this Introduction maps out how the chapters that follow seek to redress them.
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