Termite Resisitence in Utopia
Submitted By bilky
Therefore beginning to answer the second part of this question ‘…to what extent does it challenge the explanations of inequalities…?’ Inequality within society has always been a widely controversial issue; for Beck it is part of every day society, and thus is a feature for his theory of risk. As questions have been raised such as; are certain types/groups of people more affected by these ‘new risks’? Does that differ from the inequality found in pre-modernity?
Beck does state that certain groups of people are affected more than others by the distribution and growth of risk. However ‘risk’ has not surpassed problems of inequality and distribution of goods, it has intensified them. For Marxist theoreticians the situation has became ambivalent; on the one hand income inequalities have remained unaltered, however the importance of the social class system seems to have been significantly reduced.
He spoke of a new kind of capitalism; ‘capitalism without class,’ focusing more on the capitalism of the individual, the result is the problems of the system have lessened politically and transformed into a ‘novel of personal experimentation’ (Elliot, 2002: 7) allowing the ‘risk’ personal failure.
Gender, Beck (1992) argued has also altered within society, there has been a breakdown of the strict stereotypical ideologies. This is primarily reflected through the increasing acceptance of divorce within society, which Beck argues is the ‘trap door’ through which women fall into ‘new poverty’ as their support and in essence stability is being reduced, and as a result; ‘risk’ has become part of ‘family life’.
Equality therefore, is challenged by ‘risk’ because as a result of more decision making within the family, there has become more of a need for the correct balance of their desires of autonomy and self-expression, with their need for dependence and emotional stability that is established through the dependence of a secure relationship. For Beck refers to the ‘omni-dimensional’ (1992: 103) inequality of genders; arguing that the ‘epochal changes’ that we have encountered regarding law and education, are more apparent ‘on paper’ than the behaviour and beliefs of society, and rather than increasing equality, the paradoxical effect has intensified inequalities, with that new ‘personal risks’, like that of the insecurities related to employment and economy within new modernity.
Individualization is therefore burdened with risk (ibid.).With the breakdown of many of the traditional certainties structured through age, gender and social class, a plurality of new risks are generated, including unemployment or underemployment, marital instability and family breakdown, accompanied by high levels of anxiety and insecurity. Life becomes less certain even while it is placed more under one’s control.
This move towards individualization does not mean that social inequalities or structuring of opportunities through such attributes asclass, gender or ethnicity have disappeared. Rather, in the face of individualization the influence of these structures have become less obvious and acknowledged as affecting life chances. Inequalities have become primarily viewed as individualized, perceived as ‘psychological dispositions: as personal inadequacies, guilt feelings, anxieties, conflicts, and neuroses’ (Beck 1992b:100).