Social theories of risk presents a broad retrospective view of the state of the theory in the social sciences written by many who have been on the cutting edge of risk research since its early days the book includes both established and novel perspectives that address the theoretical foundations of the field and reflect what we know about risk as a psychological social and cultural phenomenon. To refer to three overarching social and cultural theories of risk that have proved especially influential while these two reviews both begin with ulrich becks 1992 risk society thesis this chapter will follow a more chronological format starting instead with the cultural theory approach of the anthropologist mary douglas. Social theories of risk traces the intellectual origins and histories of twelve of the established and emerging paradigms from the perspective of their principal proponents each contributor examines the underlying assumptions of his or her paradigm the foundational issue it seeks to address and likely future directions of research. This article provides a critical comparative review of ulrich becks and mary douglass social theories of risk the author is particularly concerned to highlight the partiality of their favoured renditions of the social reality of risk perception in relation to the accumulated evidence of empirical research
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