Friday, November 28, 2008

Quotes from "World Risk Society" by Beck

P4. Risks presuppose decision. These decisions were previously undertaken with fixed norms of calculability, connecting means and ends or causes and effects. These norms are precisely what 'word risk society' has rendered invalid. All of this becomes very evident with private insurance, perhaps the greatest symbol of calculation and alternative security--which does not cover nuclear disaster, nor climate change and its consequences, not the breakdown of Asian economies, nor the low-probability high-consequences risk of various forms of future technology. in fact, most controversial technologies, like genetic engineering, are not privately insured.

P5. Thus the framework of risk society again connects what have been strictly discrete areas: the question of nature, the democratization of democracy and the future role of the state. much political debate over the last twenty years has centered on the decline in the power and legitimacy of government and the need to renew the culture of democracy. risk society demands an opening up the decision-making process, not only of the state but of private corporations and the sciences as well. it calls for institutional reform of those 'relations of definition', the hidden power-structure of risk conflicts. this could encourage environmental innovations and help to construct a better developed public sphere in which the crucial questions of value that underpin risk conflicts can be debated and judged.

P6. Risk and responsibility are intrinsically connected, as are risk and trust, risk and security. to whom can responsibility be attributed? or do we live in a context of 'organized irresponsibility'? this is one of the major issues in most of the political conflicts of our time. some believe that risk induces control, so that the greater the risk the greater the need for controllability. the concept of 'world risk society', however, draws attention to the limited controllability of the dangers we have created for ourselves. the main question is how to take decisions uncer conditions of manutfactured uncertainty, where not only is the knowledge bse incomplete, but more and better knowledge often means more uncertainty.

P16. There are many risks in life, and only some are suitable as the basis of community. but risk-sharing or a 'socialization of risk' can , in my view, become a powerful basis of communicty, one which has both territorial and non-territiorial aspects. so far, risk has seemed a purely negative phenomenon, to be avoided or minimized. but it may be seen at the same time as a positive phenomenon too, when it involves the sharing of risks whiout borders. post-national communities could thus be constructed and reconstructed as communiteies of risk. cultural definitions of appropriate types or degrees or risk define the communitym in effect, as those who share the relevant assumptions.

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