Risk, Identities and Recognition: A History of Dangerous Categories and Categories of Danger

Rushton, Peter (2013) Risk, Identities and Recognition: A History of Dangerous Categories and Categories of Danger. In: Constructing Risky Identities in Policy and Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, pp. 21-37. ISBN 9781137276087

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Abstract

Ulrich Beck’s model of ‘risk society’ has attempted to establish a sense of discontinuity with previous stages of modern society. We are still ‘modern’, ‘advanced’ and ‘industrial’, but not as we knew it 50 years ago. This modernity is ‘late’, ‘high’, or even ‘post-’ modernity. Yet it is not clear what has changed: like many definitions of the present, the theory of risk society is essentially an historical interpretation of modernity which seeks to identify the nature of a break — or breaks — with the recent past. To some extent, the novelty has just been assumed rather than argued and demonstrated from evidence, as a number of commentators have noted (Marsh and Melville, 2011; O’Malley, 2000). As global economic and other problems have increasingly dominated, Beck suggests we accept ‘the new historical character of world risk society’ (Beck, 2009, p. 7). In what follows, the newness of risk in global society is evaluated for its historical assumptions and theoretical parallels, and then a critical historical exploration of a few selected areas of social concern is undertaken. In both discussions, the key aim is to assess whether risks have changed as much as theorists suppose in the context of the unpredictable effects of globalisation. As the introduction to this collection makes clear, the meaning of the word ‘risk’ in social theory has changed drastically. This is not risk as conventional techniques of risk-assessment define it. Rather, according to Beck, risk is now ‘manufactured risk’, the often unexpected outcomes of collective human actions.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Risk, History of risk, risky people, risky categories
Subjects: Culture > History and Politics
Divisions: Faculty of Education and Society
Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Peter Rushton
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2013 11:02
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2020 13:15
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/3954

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