DescriptionThis book gives a comprehensive yet easily accessible introduction to risk and uncertainty as they have been analysed in sociology and related social sciences. The book draws extensively on the wide array of contemporary social theories of risk and relates these to the many and diverse areas in contemporary society where risk plays an important role. It will be an invaluable for both students and researchers interested in risk in relation to politics, the environment, health, media, science and technology and finance.
Written in a clear and accessible language, the book gives a balanced account of the many theoretical approaches taken to the diverse phenomenon of risk, using concrete examples to illustrate abstract points. The book highlights some key themes such as uncertainty and individual responsibility which emerge as common to different theories and fields of study. The book is perfectly suited as an introduction for new students in sociology, political science, anthropology, media studies and health studies.
1 Introduction 1
Risks are social 1
Risk in contemporary society 3
The (un)reality of risk 7
Two imagined scenarios involving risk 9
The sociological approach to risk 14
This book 16
2 The possibility of Hume: a brief genealogy of the concept of risk 20
Risk and modernity 20
A slow ‘modern’ breakthrough 26
Risk, statistics, government – the discovery of society 31
Risk in advanced modernity 33
3 Theories about risk 38
Mary Douglas 38
Cultural values and modes of organization 40
Ulrich Beck 46
Reflexive modernization, individualization and cosmopolitanism 50
Risks in current societies 55
Other theories 61
4 Risk, technology and nature 67
Technology and being green 67
Technology and complexity 70
Nature, environment, ecology 72
Risks as hybrids 75
Global risks, vulnerability and inequality 80
5 Risk, knowledge and uncertainty 84
Does science know? 84
Science in the risk society 86
Uncertainty and science 91
Post-normal science and precaution 94
The public understanding of science 96
‘Doing things’ with science and risk 99
6 Risk and culture 105
The role of culture 105
Ways of acting, talking and understanding: defining culture 106
Science and culture 111
Culture, risk and political interest 114
The social amplification of risk 117
7 Risk and the mass media 122
The media and perceptions of risk 122
Bad news is good news 126
Competition and commercialization 131
The media, health and lifestyle 133
8 Risky futures: pleasure and capitalism 138
Climbing mountains 138
Edgework, individualization and entrepreneurialism 140
A present future 144
Calculating the risks, not knowing the odds 148
Risk and the burden of responsibility 152
9 Risk, politics and government 158
The power of defining risk 158
Transnational risk regulation 161
Terror, war and risk 165
Crime and risks 168
Health and risk subjects 172
10 Conclusion 181
Categories of risk? 181
Risks as potentials 183
Risk, responsibility and individualization 185
Where to, risk? 187
Health, Risk & Society
"This treatise is particularly successful for the way that it succeeds in bringing together discussion of how risk features in social and political lives with theoretical analyses and empirical studies of risk."
"This book, by one of the rising stars of sociology, demonstrates that without the sociology of risk it is impossible to understand the ambivalences and uncertainties of our time."
Ulrich Beck, University of Munich
"In the context of today's global financial meltdown Jakob Arnoldi's Risk is a must read. It is at the same time an introduction to risk and the most comprehensive account available. It addresses risk in war, global geo-politics, health, environment and general 'living on the edge'. It comprises an original theory of knowledge in today's risk societies. Arnoldi tells us knowledge is possible, but that this must remain uncertain knowledge."
Scott Lash, University of London
"A wide-ranging and thorough appraisal of the impacts and effects of risk in the social sciences and, more broadly, society at large. This timely and authoritative book melds together theoretical perspectives and contemporary risk issues in a progressive and enlightening way."
Gabe Mythen, University of Liverpool
- An excellent introduction to a concept which has become increasingly central to debates in the social sciences.
- Covers major theories of risk, including those of Mary Douglas and Ulrich Beck, and discusses key substantive areas including risk and environment, risk and health, and risk and the media.
- Very clear and accessible – ideal for students.
- Latest edition to Polity’s successful Key Concepts series.