How risk is a feature in all societies, and its connection to the challenges of sustainability
The Risk Society Revisited
Social Theory and Governance
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Eugene A. Rosa, Ortwin Renn and Aaron M. McCright
Risk is a part of life. How we handle uncertainty and deal with potential threats influence decision making throughout our lives. In The Risk Society Revisited, Eugene A. Rosa, Ortwin Renn, and Aaron M. McCright offer the first book to present an integrated theory of risk and governance.
The authors examine our sociological understanding of risk and how we reconcile modern human conditions with our handling of risk in our quest for improved quality of life. They build a new framework for understanding risk—one that provides an innovative connection between social theory and the governance of technological and environmental risks, and the sociopolitical challenges they pose for a sustainable future.
Showing how our consciousness affects risk in the decisions we make—as individuals and as members of a democratic society—The Risk Society Revisited makes an important contribution to the literature of risk research.
"The Risk Society Revisited is an exceptional book that puts the major scholars on risk and risk society together in a single entity. The surprise addition of Jürgen Habermas is an interesting stroke of genius. This book will be incredibly important for comprehensively engaging these scholars on risk. The authors write clearly and effectively, and their book will become a must-have in the U.S. at least and likely in Europe as well."
"This book takes an abstract approach to a concrete problem: how authorities assess risk and direct social policy accordingly. The authors assume an underlying consensus over the common social good on which decisions are made. They recognize a conflict between experts who rely on math and sciences, and ordinary citizens who rely on anecdotes, hunches, and folklore, but then imply that the common good will best be achieved if laymen submit to professionals' judgment.... Risk is not an unchangeable fact of life. It is created by someone."
"In the introduction the authors acknowledge the long-term structural and cultural changes that pushed us into a risk society. They argue that since there will always be real risks there is a need for concrete strategies to improve human ability and capacity to manage risk…. The book is timely in providing theoretical support for many calls for more participative approaches in, for instance, risk communication and governance, regional planning, and public policy."
"Risk has always been a central feature of societies.... In The Risk Society Revisited, Eugene Rosa, Ortwin Renn, and Aaron McCright contend that conventional regulatory strategies are ill-equipped to manage these risks. The authors’ purpose is to stimulate a paradigm shift in risk regulation based on a sociological framework in which risk society theory is integrated with the facts of risk decision-making processes.... Rosa, Renn, and McCright have invested their hearts in this volume. Their work is earnest. Ambitious. Worthy. They offer us not an immediately workable model, but a vision of effective risk governance to provoke reflection, conversation, and action in our confrontations with unprecedented threats to humans and the planet."
Foreword: Risk Society as Political Category, by Ulrich Beck
Introduction: Sketching the Contemporary Era
Part I: Social Science Foundations of Risk
Part II: Risk and Social Theory
Part III: Risk Governance: Links between Theory and Strategy
Conclusion: Risk Governance as a Catalyst for Social Theory and Praxis
Eugene A. Rosa (1941-2013) was the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy, Professor of Sociology, Affiliated Professor of Fine Arts, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach at Washington State University.
Ortwin Renn serves as scientific director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam (Germany). He also remains Acting Director of the Stuttgart Research Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS). Renn continues to direct together with Dr. Marion Dreyer and Agnes Lampke the non-profit company DIALOGIK, a research institute for the investigation of communication and participation processes. Renn is Adjunct Professor for “Integrated Risk Analysis” at Stavanger University (Norway) and Affiliate Professor for “Risk Governance” at Beijing Normal University.
Aaron M. McCright is Associate Professor of Sociology in Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Sociology, and the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University.