Tricky Business: Challenging Risk Theory and its Vision of a Better Global Future

  • François Debrix
Chapter
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)

Abstract

Over the past ten years, risk theory has been one of the most fashionable theoretical models used to analyse the crises of late-modern society. Introduced by German sociologist Ulrich Beck in the early 1990s,1 and later revisited by Anglo-Saxon constructionist and critical social theorists including Anthony Giddens, Scott Lash and Zygmunt Bauman,2 risk theory has been deployed as a response to many destabilizing trends and fear-inducing phenomena of the 1990s. With the emergence of environmental disasters in the former Communist bloc countries, sweeping political changes in all of Europe, bloody ethnic rivalries from the Balkans to Africa, and growing social inequalities pretty much everywhere, risk theory has risen to academic prominence with its claims to be able to offer theoretical and practical guidelines that will help people to make sense of the inconsistencies of a globalized society (or what Beck often simply calls ‘risk society’). While intimately associated with the problems of the Western world and the collapse of many of the West’s political values (the state, sovereignty, democracy, welfare), risk society affects the entire world because the West has assiduously sought to ‘globalize’ its values and its political system for the past two centuries.

Keywords

Migration Europe Assure Posit Stake 

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Notes

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© François Debrix 2005

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  • François Debrix

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