Living in the world risk society – Ulrich Beck

What I found particularly interesting about this article was Beck’s statement that “in order to protect their populations from the danger of terrorism, states increasingly limit civil rights and liberties” (330) which, according to him, will remove free society rather than helping to prevent terrorist attacks. Has his argument not been enforced by the recent NSA spying scandal? Did American citizens feel like their civil liberties had been limited by, e.g. the Patriot Act, or do they see it as an effective protection? Is it a risk or an “instrument of risk management”?

What I also get from Beck’s arguments is that people have a need and desire to explain everything that happens to them (especially catastrophes). Out of this results states being obsessed with the idea of having to “control something even if one does not know whether it exists” (335). In other words, controlling the “the unknown unknowns” (335). Personally, I think there is not only irony in this statement as Beck explains but it also hints at a touch of paranoia in today’s states and societies, which is certainly intensified through mass media (cf. 332).

With regard to publicly received risk functioning as a connector and communication device between people of different countries and societies, I would like to point to the current refugee crisis. Especially the European Union has the chance to prove right now that this statement is true and I do believe that it is. It is an opportunity to “tear away the facades of organized irresponsibility” (339). In addition, to connect this to a further point of Beck’s article, I agree with his opinion that there exists a “network of transnational interdependencies” (343). It is not only Europe and it should not only be Europe that is involved in the refugee crisis. That is why I was happy to read today that President Obama has told his administration to take in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over the next year.

If you are interested, here is the link to the newspaper article:

Here is another video of Jean-Claude Juncker, current President of the European Commission. He calls European countries to accept binding quotas to resettle 160,000 refugees and stresses the fact that every European country needs to be “on board”.

– Chantal M.


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