This important book by one of Europe's leading social and political theorists draws together key essays which argue that a new frame of reference is needed to understand the world risk society in which we live today. Beck focuses on ecological and technological questions of risk, and their sociological and political implications. In doing so, he discusses and answers some of the criticisms provoked by his earlier and much cited work on risk society. Beck argues that we now have an "earth politics" which we did not have some years ago, and that it can be understood in terms of the dynamics and contradictions of a world risk society. It poses questions such as: What is the environment? What is nature? What is wilderness? What is human? Questions which have to be reposed and reconsidered in a transnational setting, even if the answers are elusive. These essays form the basis of Beck's "Cosmopolitan Manifesto" which addresses the dialectic of global and local questions which do not fit into national politics.
By recognizing that diversity, individualism and scepticism are written into our culture, we can form the basis of a new social cohesion, a new cosmopolitanism in which the creative uncertainty of freedom replaces the hierarchical certainty of difference. Beck encourages political experimentation to form a global morality of shared risk which could shape powerful cosmopolitan movements in the future. This book is an important text for students and scholars in sociology and politics. It will also be read by a wider audience interested in the key social and political questions of our time.
"Full of ideas and insights and thus extremely stimulating reading ... essential reading for those seeking to bridge the gap between theory about societies and theories about world politics - a bridge that is urgently needed."
-- Millennium: Journal of International Studies
"A critical and dispassionate account of ecological threats that are wealth-driven, poverty-driven, or are owed to nuclear, biological and chemical means of mass destruction; a powerful discourse on risk calculation and insurability that permeates the book in an almost metaphorical sense; and, as a bonus for the disappointed student of socialist political economy, a poignant if implicit refutation of liberal economics and rational choice theory as meaningful explanatory tools of reality."
-- Canadian Journal of Political Science
'This challenging collection of essays by one of the major social theorists of our time is essential reading for anyone interested to get to know the breadth of Ulrich Beck's work on the 'Risk Society'. Addressing academics and policy makers, Beck analyses the impact of the 'World Risk Society' on the environment and considers the implications of this globalization of 'organized irresponsibility' for socio-political and economic action. World Risk Society is social theory at its contemporary best: powerful, engaged and socially relevant.'
-- Barbara Adam, Cardiff University