- (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
- (2) London School of Economics and Political Science, grid.13063.37
- (3) University College London, grid.83440.3b
The concept of “risk society” was coined by German sociologist Ulrich Beck in 1986 and has since gained central importance in both social theory and public discourse. As modern industrial society advances, Beck argues, its associated production of ecological and techno‐scientific risks is gaining a new epoch‐defining societal significance. The result is a profound structural transformation, leading to a rupture between first (industrial, wealth‐oriented) and second (reflexive, risk‐oriented) modernity. In the risk society, existing modern national institutions of economy, science, law, and politics are confronted with their own harmful and unintended side effects, in a process undermining their very foundations of rationality and legitimacy. What is required, Beck suggests, is a wholesale “reinvention of politics,” based on recognizing the conditions of manufactured, self‐inflicted insecurity in risk society – and attuned to the transboundary interconnectedness and cosmopolitan imperatives manifested via global risks that, like climate change, cannot be contained by nation‐state institutions.