Governmentality and Risk
SOCIAL THEORIES OF RISK AND UNCERTAINTY, pp. 52-75, J. Zinn, ed., Oxford, 2008
27 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 2009
Governmentality provides one of the most influential analyses of the nature and development of risk-based techniques in government over the past thirty years. In contrast to Beck's 'risk society' theory, which sees risk as a unity, governmentality emphasises the diversity of forms that risk takes as a governmental technique, and stresses their very different implications for those who are governed. In contrast to cultural analyses of risk, that concern themselves with the sociological ways risk is associated with particular congeries of social meanings and group processes, governmentality focuses overwhelmingly on governmental plans and programs. A governmental approach to risk is thus little interested in explaining the rise of risk in terms of some grand theory under which all risk is subordinated as an effect of epiphenomenon, nor in how widespread is the social acceptance of governmental plans. This chapter outlines the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach, what its impact has been, and examines how far governmentality can be integrated with risk society and cultural approaches to risk in contemporary life.
Keywords: risk, governmentality, criminology, security, social theory, uncertainty
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation