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What do events as different as Chernobyl, global warming, mad cow disease, the debate about the human genome, the Asian financial crisis, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have in common? They signify different dimensions and dynamics of (global) risk society.

Premodern dangers were attributed to nature, gods, and demons. Risk is a modern concept. It presumes decision making and inherently contains the concept of control. As soon as we speak in terms of “risk,” we are talking about calculating the incalculable, colonizing the future. In this sense, calculating risks is part of the master narrative of (first) modernity. In Europe, this victorious march culminates in the development and organisation of the welfare state, which bases its legitimacy on its capacity to protect its citizens ...

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