Beck’s Theory of Risk Society

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Time and again, sociologists have studied societal behaviours and have coined different names for different societies. With the advent of the era of advanced modernity, societal thinkers went into further depths and coined even more comprehensive titles such as Affluent societies, Civic Societies, Open societies etc. One of the most prominent societal thinkers of this new modern era is Ulrich Beck. INTRODUCTION TO BECK AND RISK SOCIETY The German sociologist coined the name of Risk Society in his book ‘’ Toward a New Modernity’’ to explain that this era of advanced modernity is overwhelmed by the underlying risks that form an integral part of the future of these societies. Beck uses the term to identify societies that are risk averse and try to find out systematic methodologies to deal with risks induced by the modernisation itself. The term risk society is also analysed through the paradigms of a theoretical framework. This frame comprises of three interrelated ingredients: Individualization, Risk and reflexive modernity. The underlying basis of Beck to his argument is that modern society is exposed to a plenthora of risks and uncertainties. These uncertainties can include nuclear radiations, global warming, highly endemic diseases, invasive species and many other virulent phenomena (Adam, 2000). CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF BECKS THEORY: The historical theoretical work on societies centered around the distribution of world resources. Particularly those of the beginning of the modern era but with the new concept of risk aversiveness, Beck has given new paradigms to the societal risk theories. He argues that today, the focus of societies is not on the distribution of resources but on the distribution of risks and machinations of modernization, the risks prevalent in the contemporary scenario. He furthers his stance by saying that many potential risks are extricated from the concepts of boundaries and so these risks cannot be equitably distributed. Everyone therefore is equally at risk. Hence the concept of social classifications identified by the historical sociologists are no longer relevant according to Beck because risks cannot be equitably distributed and so all social classes are dissolved leading to individualization of the social actors. INDIVIDUALIZATION: According to Beck since all countries are equally exposed to the risks identified earlier, all entities, organizations, institutions and governments stand at the same level and so they are individualized at their own domains. Thus they have to take charge of the responsibilities and work on solutions to mitigating these risks. These individualized social actors identify the risks generated from technological innovation and new discoveries and they undertake action such as social movements and awareness campaigns to pressurize the innovators in being safety complaint. On the basis of this idea of individualization, Beck illustrates the vision of ‘New Modernity’. He portrays a society where personal experimentation and cultural innovation are cherished at the back of high potential uncertainties. Beck considers both regressive and progressive elements to individualization REFLEXIVE MODERNIZATION Beck criticises modernity by attacking the presuppositions of the theory of modernity related socialization. He is of the opinion that many sociologists confuse modernity with industrialism. He finds progress in the overrated social theories which align linear