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Though many have contributed to the risk society thesis, it is most commonly associated with German sociologist Ulrich Beck and British sociologist Anthony Giddens. They argue that we are living through a second age of modernity, the world risk society. It is distinguished from the first age of modernity, the industrial society, by a shared social awareness of the improbable but potentially catastrophic risks (e.g., climate change, nuclear war, financial crisis) inherent in the application of science and technology to the social problem of scarcity and the unprecedented global production and distribution of goods. This awareness—a realization of “the paradox of progress”—has led to significant social upheaval and reorganization, as an emerging collective ethos based on a new ontology and epistemology of risk has begun ...

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