Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Reflexive Modernity and the Risk Society.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Reflexive Modernity and the Risk Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reflexive Modernity and the Risk Society.
Lecture Six Reflexive Modernity and the Risk Society.

2 Key Issues Risk Society- Ulrich Beck
Risk as the 'flipside' of increased opportunities created by science and technology Risk and institutional decision making. Risk and subjectivity. Risk, otherness, and identity. Risk and pleasure Risk, psychotherapeutic the powerless self and ‘therapy culture’ (Frank Furedi 2003)

3 Background For Giddens late modernity based upon human reflexivity.
Individuals make choices and decisions in a 'rational' and secular manner. This can be contrasted with the individual in traditional societies individuals who referred to tradition, religion or custom as a means by which to make decisions and plans. In Late modernity all of our social activity needs to be revised in the light of new information about ourselves, others and the world around us.

4 Risk, Uncertainty and Subjectivity
Subjectivity increasingly permeated by increased notions of risk and uncertainty. Subjectivity includes our most personal thoughts, feelings and emotions and yet we experience it in social contexts (Woodward). Question of why we become attached to particular identities and not others. Giddens view of a modern rational subjectivity is flawed. A bewildering array of information upon which we are supposed to base our decision making. According to postmodernists no longer any universal norms/ values/ truths/ concepts/knowledge. Metanarratives which provided certainty have been undermined with the coming of the Postmodern age Modernity replaced religious and supernatural explanations with science

5 Postmodernity and Risk
In postmodernity scientificism undermined. For Giddens due to increased social reflexivity in high modernity all 'traditions', ideologies etc.. will have to prove their validity and origins But post/ high/ late modernity characterised by a radical scepticism and relativism that throws all of our beleifs, values and attitudes into question. An age of radical uncertainty Links between uncertainty and subjective experience of risk.

6 New kinds of Risk. Risk faced by (post)modern individuals- different to risks faced by individuals in traditional/pre-modern societies. In traditional societies individuals confronted by risks associated with Nature (flood, famine, crop failure). In modern and postmodern societies individuals more likely to be faced with risks created by society and its social institutions. Modern individuals faced with 'manufactured uncertainities' (Giddens) In this sense late modernity is a 'risk culture'. For Giddens globalisation an existential dilemma which profoundly affects an individual's/social group's sense of personal and social identity.

7 From Industrial Society to Risk Society.
Ulrich Beck – concepts of risk as old as human race itself. At present greater control over the risks posed by nature. BUT new 'man-made' risks- nuclear power, bio-chemical disaster, pollution, ozone depletion, global warming, the depletion of finite resources etc Risk- the flipside of increased opportunities we have created through science and technology. Opportunities for material, physical and social security -science and technology have a dark side. Global risks a central concern for a broad cross section of society, leaders of national governments, individual citizens and communities.

8 Changing concepts of risk.
Risk in modern industrial societies not global in reach Less of a concern for politicians and the public. Shift in our understanding of nature over the last three hundred years.

9 Changing Concepts of nature and the environment.
In past nature seen as a separate realm from humanity and society Something to be bound into our service A feminisation of the natural world (Baconian view) Many different constructs of nature -a concept; a utopia; a recollection; a resource. For Beck nature can no longer be understood as a separate realm to the rest of society. Environmental problems not just problems of nature -social problems also. Modernity is no longer able to deal with the fruits of its creation. We must enter a stage of reflexive modernity. Pressing need for us to confront these catastrophes of our own making.

10 Confronting global Risk. 1
Global risks qualitatively different to natural disasters. Global risk rooted in ‘rational’ decision making processes which accept these drawbacks as the negative image of advantage and opportunity. Risk emanates from organizational, political and institutional decision making. Notions of accountability, personal responsibility and blame absent from the sphere of natural disaster BUT industrial risk politically charged

11 Confronting global Risk.2
People, firms, agencies and politicians responsible for decision making which leads to the production of risk. Environmental and human cost not only aspects of industrial risk. Social consequences of risk make it a highly political issue. New institutional formations and procedures necessary for establishing ways of dealing with these consequences.

12 Institutional harm reduction and the calculus of risk.
Awareness of risk leads to institutionalised methods of harm reduction. Attempts to anticipate risks that might not even happen. ' Invention of a calculus of risk that entails making ‘the incalculable- calculable'. Collective involvement in calculation of risk even though risk is generally an individual thing. insurance system illustrates this collective involvement Risk produces knowledge Risk forecasted, calculated, measured and quantified Calculus of risk applied to disparate phenomenon Paradox- ethics of provision for risk not accompanied by a morality which judges whether man should be placed at risk or not

13 Comparing Beck and Giddens
Similarities between Beck and Giddens. For both risk as emerges from modernisation and globablisation. For both risk qualitatively different in late modern societies where risk has greater impact across space and time. Both interested in the political ramifications of risk. Both claim that expert discourses have been undermined by concerns about risk. Both interested in the ways that that increased reflexivity results as a response to risk and uncertainty in late modern societies. BUT Beck claims that increased risk reflexivity is the outcome of a greater number of risks and hazards being produced Giddens claims that risks are merely thought to be greater because human subjectivity is now more sensitive to risk. Giddens is also more interested self-reflexivity- refelexivity directed towards the body and the self. Beck more interested in our reflexive critiques of the social and institutional.

14 Cultural Symbolic perspectives on Risk 1
Cultural/Symbolic perspective on Risk influenced by functional structuralism and anthropology of Mary Douglas (See Lupton 1999) From this perspective risk notions of risk a cultural strategy for dealing with danger, cultural pollution, contamination and otherness. Douglas interested in how/ why some objects or practices come to be defined as Risky. Judgements about risky peoples/groups, practices and objects help to structure symbolic boundaries around groups and to maintain a sense of order within group boundaries.

15 Cultural Symbolic perspectives on Risk 2
Culture a mnemonic system- helps people to structure collective beliefs. Certain dangers or risks singled out for attention by a society or social group. Taboos or avoidance rituals act to protect the group from behaviours, objects or practices which might destabilise them and threaten the symbolic boundaries of that group. Risk intimately bound up with political concerns. Concepts of risk used to define boundaries of social groups. Concepts of risk used to exclude and create out-groups or ‘others’.

16 Risk and the Individual Body.
In Purity and Danger Douglas outlines a model that highlights the ways groups and individuals attempt to preserve the integrity of individual and social body. Individual body has symbolic boundaries which need to be controlled. BUT individual body a metaphor for the body politic. Individual bodies have an inside that can be threatened by the outside- Social body or society also.

17 Risk and the social body
Social body has margins, boundaries and an internal structure that need protecting Notions of individual and social bodies bodily boundaries and openings a major preoccupation of human societies. National body at risk from invading ‘others’- Social body at risk from pollution and contamination The fleshly body at risk from contamination by impure food or bacteria. Bodily control intimately bound up with social control.

18 Boundary maintenance and Risk.
Relaxing the boundaries of individual and social body dangerous. Subjects and objects ascribed ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ status. Failure to police what comes in and out of social or individual body mean a sense of disorder ensues. Body continually threatened. Risk linked to notions of dirty and impure objects, practices, individuals. A moral economy of risk. Danger explained by using cultural frameworks that are moral and political. Douglas’ model useful tool for explaining racism and other social hatreds.

19 The Specificity of Risk.
Mary Douglas draws to our attention the ways that risk is constructed differently in different contexts. What is risky in one culture provides social stability and order in another. Different cultural contexts characterised by different symbolic frameworks. A less individualistic account of risk perception than we find in Giddens and Beck. Notions of risk affect group identities -all manner of objects and actions can be experienced subjectively as risky. Risk -largely influenced or determined by social factors such as group membership. Power relations underlie social meanings that inform our notions of risk. Risk from this perspective is relative to time, place and context it is socially constructed. Individuals construct risk knowledges in the context of their everyday lives.

20 Risk Otherness and Object relations theory 1
Psychoanalytic theory- Object relations tradition stresses the importance of the ‘Other’ as necessary for the development of the self. Early realisation by infant that his/her body is a separate entity from the mother results in tensions. Otherness becomes associated with danger and confounds the sense of peace and order the infant was experiencing before this realisation. Tensions and conflicts from early stages of life has persistent effects throughout adult life. The self is always defined against the Other – that which is not us. Group identity always defined in relation to an out-group.

21 Risk Otherness and Object relations theory 2
Freud –‘The narcissism of minor differences’ Minor- not major- differences lead to the bitterest disputes. Minor differences Inflated into lethally competing fictional identities. Other always represents a sense of danger or risk to the individual. Anything/ anyone that cannot be readily ordered or categorised leads to feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. Risk always involves uncertainty. Marginalised members of society often considered ‘risky’ Ascribed a risk identity by the dominant group. Risk central to subjectivity and identity, both our own and others.

22 Risk and pleasure Foucault -individuals in modern society have become self-regulating and self-controlling. This can be contrasted to social control by coercive external forces of the state. Lupton argues that some individuals today rebel against such self-control and self-regulation. Voluntary courting of risks one way of doing this Certain forms of risk-taking considered a necessary part of ‘self-actualisation’. Common belief that risk taking linked to personal growth. Risk taking a response to the ever intensifying control and predictability of modern life.

23 ‘New-Age’ Travellers, Ontological insecurity and Risk Identity (Wild 2005)
New-Age Travellers choose a risk Identity to escape from the coercive, static, binding predictability of sedentary life (Wild 2005). Risk for this group intimately bound up with pleasure. Adopting a risk identity for this group - self empowering Risk identity and other status actively created on an ongoing basis. Travellers are the authors of their own otherness in many ways. Becoming other in relation to 'mainstream' society gives them a feeling of belonging. Adopting a risk identity one solution to the ontological crisis in late modernity that Giddens proposed. A secularised, globalised, fragmented, risk society produces ontological insecurity and Travellers have found an answer to that ontological insecurity in their risk identity. Risk identity a shared identity, fluid enough to allow self determination but coherent enough to provide a sense of belonging and community.

24 Risk Consciousness in Contemporary society.
Frank Furedi (2003) focuses on different manifestations of contemporary risk consciousness. Furedi (1995)- study on the international contraceptive pill panic. Varied response to this panic in different societies. Furedi questions why some cultures have a more developed consciousness of risk than others. Fear an ever-expanding part of life in the West in the 21st century. Fear of disease, abuse, stranger danger, environmental devastation and terrorist onslaught. Urged to take greater precautions and seek more protection. Compared to past, or developing world, people in contemporary societies have much less familiarity with pain, suffering, disease and death. We actually enjoy an unprecedented level of personal safety. Greatest danger -the tendency to fear our achievements Panic about GM food, genetic research, dangers of mobile phones. Obsession with theoretical risks distracts us from dealing with the ‘old-fashioned’ dangers that have always threatened our lives.

25 Therapy Culture, Risk and the Medicalisation of Everyday Experience.
Furedi ‘perceptions risk have little to do empirical evidence’. Risk perception shaped by cultural assumptions about human vulnerability. Explores cultural influences that have encouraged society to become risk-averse and vulnerable. Individuals increasingly represented as vulnerable. Our mental health /emotions under siege. Behavior and experience increasingly medicalised Leads to notions of mans 'diminished subjectivity'. We live in a ‘Therapy culture’. Psychoanalytic discourse leads to notions of an ‘assailable self’. Self and subjectivity under threat from the internal and external psychological attack. Notion of 'therapy' no longer refers to unusual problems or exotic states of mind. Everyday experiences given a psychological label Everyday experiences medicalised and posed as a direct threat to one's emotional well-being. Therapy a way in which society expects individuals to understand and cope with life.

26 The Helpless Self in Contemporary Society.
The therapeutic approach instructs us to acknowledge our problems rather than transcend them. Therapeutic culture teaches us to be victims and to know our place especially before an 'expert' whether he be a therapist, doctor, lawyer. This generate a culture of dependance, notions of a helpless self and a self at risk.

27 Conclusion 1 Risk a diverse set of social phenomena not just a narrow, technical concept. Question of whether heightened awareness of risk is really a new phenomonenon. Foucault’s ‘great fear’ preceding the great confinement- shaped modern rational subjectivity. Cycles of millennial panic throughout history. Natural,/supernatural disasters /Armageddon/ end of days and millennial panic. Beck and Giddens are right to point out that notions of Risk have always existed but now they are manmade. However man has, historically, also been seen as responsible for being the master of his own destruction. Risk posed by sinful behaviour preceded notions of risk bound up with technological advancement

28 Conclusion 2 Cultural symbolic approaches highlighted the ways that notions of risk are used to police and construct the boundaries around the individual and social body. Others or outgroups created by reference to risky or dangerous objects, practices or actions. Others excluded and defined as dangerous threatening or polluting Representations of other, coupled with their expulsion or exclusion serve to maintain a sense of order, stability and cultural purity or integrity. Otherness experienced in unexpected ways. Risk identity can be ascribed or elected (Wild 2004) Risk, Subjectivity and Identity inextricably linked.

Download ppt "Reflexive Modernity and the Risk Society."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google