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Lecture

week 7 - October 24.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC205H5
Professor
Nicole Myers
Semester
Fall

Description
SOC305 Risk and Uncertainty Risk Govermentality understand the calculation and perceptions of risk as being related to the shift into advanced liberalism Risk is about the way we interpret the world, the way we understand the world Risk is a particular type of knowledge, its a way that we communicate We communicate things that we know in risk language Risk is everywhere, encountered risk in a number of ways before coming to class We are constantly coming into interaction with risk Risk is often taken into its practical application. E.g. seatbelts werent standard in cars in the past and if someone wanted seatbelts they would have to pay extra. Now, we have shifted to a point where the car will continuously beep if we dont have the seatbelt on Concerns about risk govern our behaviour about risk for example when we drive during bad weather. People change their behaviour to encounter those risks We have a risk portfolio we have a list of risks that were aware of, that we use to calculate our behaviours. Risks in ones portfolio are different than those in others b/c everyone has a different perception of risk o And if you have to rank the risks in your own portfolio, you may rank them different than how someone else would rank them Risk is somewhat the biggest business there is. o E.g. insurance companies their entire business is on measuring risk, predicting risk, trying to protect people from the consequences from risk When we talk about risk were talking about uncertainty o Risk is talked about in a way to try to manage what is uncertain o Risk forms a particular type of knowledge that we use to explain uncertain things It can be thought of as a probability (what is the likelihood of something happening, what is the probability of something happening? how probable is the scale of harm?), and b/c were taking about probability were talking about taking changes, calculating the odds When you look at the past to try to determine when this started happening we can see that is goes as far back as slavery and the shipping of people the risks then were, who do you take and how far do you send them o this is the first part in our history that we see people using risk calculations From that we see the rise of statistics and data rates, which is where we see the rise in the actuarial table Actuarial table when you can input numbers and form a table of probability Probability in this sense and our ability to predict is our attempt to try to tame chance Then try to see that risk is key in the development of capitalism. o E.g. you have to be willing to take risks to be an entrepreneur o This is how our market moved forward, by ppl willing to take on these risks We were able to have these calculations of risk probability derived from these statistical models thth were created by studying the large population In the 20 century these ideas about probability, risks, and stats started to spread Moved from being used by merchants to corporations The concept of a welfare state is really a national collective insurance strategy. E.g. providing welfare checks to ppl unemployed, making sure ppl have access to health care Risk Society First person to coin the term risk society Instead of society being distributed around material good we are now distributed by battles, he means that sources of danger are no longer an ignorance but sources of danger are in knowledge, and that by knowing more we are becoming more and more aware of the risks Referring to reflexivity the idea that in learning/understanding/talking/putting mechanisims in place to prevent risk, we are creating risk o by trying to manage the risks that already exist we are creating more risks. o The management of risk becomes a risk in itself E.g there was a time when we believed that we were using something to protect houses from fires and instead they were built with material that causes cancer (aspectice) o There was a time we believed that this was protecting us from risk but instead it created cancer o This is one of the biggest insurance claims Risk is manufactured, we are creating the risks o E.g. trying to prevent fires by using aspectice and now we created a new risk b/c it leads to cancer Issues st 1 concern: Concerns that he is overstating the distinction between late and modern ideas around risk o Contemporary risks are nothing new. o E.g. aids pandemic, which is a concern now but a couple of years ago it was the same concerns just with something different like the black plague 2 concern: Risks have never been that unregulated we have always had mechanisms in place to try to minimize and regulate risk o In this sense, it doesnt necessarily mean that there are more risks, we are just more aware of risks, were talking about them more, were managing them more He talks about the end of the traditional bonds that would usually keep you in check and that the ends of these bonds are exacerbating risk when really his argument is that tradition has ended and risk has come up and taken that place Argues then that class position isnt important but rather out risk position o b/c the risks that you are exposed to are very much dependent on your class position, depending on where you are in the class structure you are going to encounter different types of risks His idea that there is more risk out there is often questioned. o Are the risks now really more harmful or are we just talking about different kinds of risks? b/c we seem to talk about it we start seeing risk more, it was always there just now we start perceiving it as a risk, its more talked about so if this about new risks or is this about a different way of understanding/looking at risks contemporary 3 elements the way risk is characterized in literature: o Conflict o Blame attribution someone needs to be held responsible o Personal negotiation how much someone engages with risk, how much one avoids risk, and what is ones threshold Ewald Ewald begins by saying that weve arrived in a space where we are now more concerned with the disaster, the grand schemes, the big significant events. E.g. 911, hurricane Katrina He says that the difference between now and then is that before they were appealing to a god or a higher power, it was the gods way at getting back at people and now we shifted to understand that it is human agency, humans have impacts So if we understand that humans have impacts on risks, then what develops is what Ewald calls the precautionary principle The precautionary principal involves: o Concerns that every risk has the potential to turn into a disaster,
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