Do modern people dream of organic sheep? : A review of the Risk Society thesis.
Abstract: Some sociologists think that contemporary society calls for new ways of analyzing it, and Ulrich Beck is arguably one of them. Suggesting that some classic sociological variables such as class are losing their relevancy, Beck advances a theory based on the concept of “reflexive” modernity – modern society cutting the ground from under itself and ending up as something new – advanced modernity. This paper is investigating the theoretical background to this claim, and also reviews some of the critique leveled at Beck. Unsurprisingly Beck's suggestion that class is dissolving has been criticized, but a lot of critique has also been aimed at the way in which Beck is suggested to understand risk perception, and the recording of this. Using a study investigating the attitudes toward organic food in the UK as an empirical example, Beck's theory is put to the test in order to see how it interprets the results. Part of the study can be explained with reference to the Risk Society thesis, but some of the critique is not challenged.
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