Chapter 5: Changing risks, individualisation and inequality in a recast welfare state
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This chapter identifies and discusses three different approaches to the analysis of new, or changing, social risks in contemporary welfare society: 1) A 'risk society perspective' which claims that new social risks are classless (egalitarian) and increasingly uninsurable, wherefore the welfare state is put under pressure as a system of insurance (Beck, Giddens); 2) a 'governmentality perspective' which links new social risks to the emergence of new and more individualised forms of risk management in a changed welfare state (Foucault, Ewald, Dean); and 3) a 'social stratification perspective' which emphasises that new social risks are, now as always, socially stratified, that is unequal and class differentiated (Bonoli, Taylor-Gooby, Standing, Wacquant). It is argued that the three perspectives, despite differences, each make a significant contribution to the understanding of the relationship between changing risks, increasing individualisation and the emergence of new forms of inequality in contemporary society. On the other hand, one of the most significant differences between the three perspectives lies in the assessment of whether these new social risks are classless and egalitarian or, on the contrary, remain socially stratified. This is investigated on the basis of two concrete examples of changing risks (inequality in health and climate change). In conclusion, it is discussed whether the concept of 'risk class' (Beck, Curran), and the related concept of 'geo-political classes' (Latour), might be fruitful as a point of departure for reaching a better understanding of how risk, inequality and class are interrelated in today's globalised society.

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