Chapter 8: Risk and new realities: social ontology, expertise and individualization in the risk society
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This chapter examines the work of Ulrich Beck with respect to his linking of risk society theory with forms of inequality that derive from knowledge asymmetries and from individualization. Risk society theory is first shown to presuppose a distinct social ontology, which can be best understood from a critical realist perspective, and that this clarifies Beck's understanding of global economic and ecological risks. The chapter then examines the topic of expertise from a risk society perspective, showing how it gives rise to novel forms of uncertainty. The chapter then turns to the link between individualization and risk consciousness as this is developed in Beck's later work. Throughout, the chapter emphasizes Beck's contribution to understanding risk and inequality as interlinked phenomena in the contemporary world.

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