`Ross Abbinnett brings a keen and subtle philosophical mind to bear on themes and debates that have become commonplace in sociology. This is a sinuously written book which casts new light on pressing contemporary issues. It is required reading for everyone who wants to think seriously and with an open mind about the terrain of the present' - Keith Tester, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth This incisive and timely book provides a concise and reliable guide to the debate on modernity and postmodernity. In particular the work of Lyotard, Beck, Bauman, Baudrillard, Giddens, Jameson and Derrida is critically reviewed. Culture and Identity provides: a thorough and accessible discussion of the main themes in the modernity-postmodernity debate; a shrewd and penetrating account of how these themes address everyday life; a novel account of how technology is altering our perceptions of the `human'; and a balanced account of the hope for radical politics and radical critique to correct the excesses of capitalism. What emerges most forcefully from the book is the error of dismissing postmodernism as a self-indulgent and ultimately, dangerous piece of ideology. Abbinnett provides a pertinent reminder of the continuing importance of the themes and challenges raised in the `postmodern moment'.
Chapter 2: Beck and Giddens: Risk and Reflexive Modernity
Beck and Giddens: Risk and Reflexive Modernity
The most cogent account of the relationship between risk and modernity is set out in Ulrich Beck's Risk Society (Beck, 1996a). In general, his contention is that late modernity is marked by the emergence of technologies whose destructive potential is so great that they put at risk the very conditions of organic life. Nuclear power, for Beck, is the paradigm of these technologies. The effects of a serious nuclear accident could not be confined to the immediate environs of the reactor, nor could they be prevented from spreading beyond the geopolitical province of the nation state. The issue of a ‘nuclear future’ therefore, is immediately one of international responsibility; for beyond the ...