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World Risk Society

  • ID: 2249387
  • Book
  • October 1999
  • Region: Global
  • 192 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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This important book by one of Europe′s leading social and political theorists draws together key essays which argue that a new frame of reference is needed to understand the world risk society in which we live today. Beck focuses on ecological and technological questions of risk, and their sociological and political implications. In doing so, he discusses and answers some of the criticisms provoked by his earlier and much cited work on risk society.

Beck argues that we now have an "earth politics" which we did not have some years ago, and that it can be understood in terms of the dynamics and contradictions of a world risk society. It poses questions such as: What is the environment? What is nature? What is wilderness? What is human? Questions which have to be reposed and reconsidered in a transnational setting, even if the answers are elusive.

These essays form the basis of Beck′s "Cosmopolitan Manifesto" which addresses the dialectic of global and local questions which do not fit into national politics. By recognizing that diversity, individualism and scepticism are written into our culture, we can form the basis of a new social cohesion, a new cosmopolitanism in which the creative uncertainty of freedom replaces the hierarchical certainty of difference. Beck encourages political experimentation to form a global morality of shared risk which could shape powerful cosmopolitan movements in the future.

This book is an important text for students and scholars in sociology and politics. It will also be read by a wider audience interested in the key social and political questions of our time.

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Acknowledgements vii

1 Introduction: The Cosmopolitan Manifesto 1

2 World Risk Society as Cosmopolitan Society? Ecological Questions in a Framework of Manufactured Uncertainties 19

3 From Industrial Society to Risk Society: Questions of Survival, Social Structure and Ecological Enlightenment 48

4 Risk Society and the Welfare State 72

5 Subpolitics: Ecology and the Disintegration of Institutional Power 91

6 Knowledge or Unawareness? Two Perspectives on ‘Reflexive Modernization’ 109

7 Risk Society Revisited: Theory, Politics, Critiques and Research Programmes 133

Noted 153

References 161

Index 168

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Ulrich Beck
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