Risk Society Framework
• Risk society: emerged in the 1990s to describe the manner in which
modern society organises in response to risk
• The term is closely associated with several key writers on modernity, in
particular, Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck.
• The term's popularity during the 1990s was both as a consequence of its links to
trends in thinking about wider modernity, and also to its links to popular
discourse, in particular the growing environmental concerns during the period.
• Risk Society: According to sociologist Giddens, a risk society is "a society increasingly
preoccupied with the future (and also with safety), which generates the notion of
risk," whilst the German sociologist Ulrich Beck defines it as “a systematic way of dealing
with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by modernisation itself”
Modern Social Science: Class, Status and now, Risk?
• A response to the dilemmas, problems and questions modernity and modern economic
development has raised
• Major thinkers in the Western intellectual tradition like Marx, Simmel, Durkheim and
Weber were working to understand social stratification in their periods through the lens
of class and status. They were grappling with the consequences of modernization
• Giddens and Beck see the phenomenon of risks and hazards firmly from the perspective
of modernity and argue that these are central to the contemporary social order.
Risk: A Unique Outcome of Modernization
• Both Giddens and Beck argue whilst human society has always been subjected to a
level of risk- such as natural disasters- these hav