Trust, Risk and Identity

  • Simon Thompson

Abstract

When do people feel confident enough to take risks? When, by contrast, do they seek security instead? Of course, no one can avoid all risks all of the time. On the contrary: Ulrich Beck’s (1992) idea of a ‘risk society’ suggests that the encounter with risk, and in particular the reflexive evaluation of that risk, are unavoidable in contemporary society. Choosing to travel by car rather than by train, to eat a high-protein diet rather than a high-fibre diet, to work in an office rather than in a factory, are decisions in which risk must be considered and confronted. But while it may not be possible to avoid risk tout court, it is nevertheless possible to embrace certain sorts of risk with more or less enthusiasm. Here I am particularly interested in a sub-set of risks that I shall call ‘risks with identity’ or ‘identity-risks’. These are risks that people may take with the course and style of their life as a whole, risks that are closely bound up with their sense of identity. In this chapter I shall focus on the argument that different attitudes to risk can be correlated with different attitudes to identity. According to this argument, those happy to take risks are also those who value autonomy, wanting to live their lives in the manner of their own choosing. By contrast, those who wish to avoid risk will seek the security of community, wanting to identify themselves with a greater whole and to follow unreflectively its rules and norms.

Keywords

Coherence Dition Reso Defend Ethos 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bauman, Z. (1998), Globalization: The Human Consequences, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. —(2000), Liquid Modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. —(2001), Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, U. (1992), Risk Society, London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Fraser, N. (2003) ‘Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics’, in N. Fraser and A. Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition?: A Philosophical Exchange, London: Verso.Google Scholar
  6. Giddens, A. (1990), Consequences ofModernity, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. —(1991), Modernity and Self-identity, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. —(1994), Beyond Left and Right: the Future of Radical Politics, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hirst, P. (1993), Associative Democracy, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  10. Misztal, B. A. (1996), Trust in Modem Societies, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Muihall, S. and Swift, A. (1996), Liberals and Communitarians, London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Taylor, C. (1992), The Ethics of Authenticity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. (1995), ‘The Politics of Recognition’, in his Philosophical Writings, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Simon Thompson 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Thompson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations