"Risks ... are particularly open to social definition and construction."
- Ulrich Beck
Ulrich Beck (1944-2015) is best known for his book "Risikogesellschaft" (Risk Society), in which he argues that worldwide and for all world citizens, in the short and long term, disruptive risks may arise as a result of (blind) economic, technical and scientific actions. by the social production of wealth and the underlying pursuit of progress. Ecology should be given equal attention to economics, according to Beck.
Society, according to Beck, is increasingly confronted with the side-effects (‘manufactured uncertainties’) of its own industrial processes. With the growing capacity of technical options grows the incalculability of their consequences. The social production of wealth is therefore systematically accompanied by the social production of risks.
"Risks (...) induce systematic and often irreversible harm, generally remain invisible, are based on causal interpretations, and thus initially exist only in terms of the (scientific or anti-scientific) knowledge about them. They can thus be changed, magnified, dramatized, or minimized within knowledge, and to that extent they are particularly open to social definition and construction." - pp. 22-23 in: Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a new modernity, London: Sage.
Read a summary of one of Beck's papers about the Global Risk Society and a summary of one of his books: