Environment and Risk

Authored by: Timothy W. Luke

Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548250
eBook ISBN: 9780203875575
Adobe ISBN: 9781135997946

10.4324/9780203875575.ch20

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Abstract

Risk and the environment offer many opportunities for social and political theorists to probe serious and unstable uncertainties, which today's major cultural, economic, and state institutions should face in the twenty-first century. For those who scrutinize the threats involved, risk can, in fact, be both routinely regarded, and cynically constructed, as an inescapable component of complex contemporary capitalist exchange. Whether one considers the varying probabilities of experiencing a local nuclear meltdown (like Chernobyl or Three Mile Island), weathering a national financial meltdown (like the collapse of Bear Stearns or Long Term Capital Management), or surviving a global market meltdown (like the financial panics of September 2008 in the North Atlantic or July 1997 in South Asia), it is plain that recognizing risk must be regarded as another unavoidable aspect of coping with freedom and necessity. Indeed, risks are now a quite ordinary conditions of human beings interoperating with complex institutions, machineries, and systems; and, in turn, theorizing about the conditions of risk brings it into the collective cultural consciousness of the overall environment as a rather normalized abnormality (Beck 1992; Cairncross 1992; Durning 1992).

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