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Environmental Values

Science and Society in Historical Perspective: Implications for Social Theories of Risk

Maurie J. Cohen

Environmental Values 8(1999): 153-176. doi: 10.3197/096327199129341770

Over the past decade risk society theory has become increasingly prominent within the field of environmental social theory. This perspective contends that conventional political divisions based on class are becoming less salient and are giving way to a politics predicated upon the distribution of risk. There is much in risk society theory, especially its central contention that public anxieties about high consequence-low probability events undermine the legitimacy of science, that has a distinctly German stamp. Through a comparative analysis of how national context has differently shaped science as a public epistemology this paper suggests we should tread carefully in moving to accept the general applicability of this theoretical approach.

KEYWORDS: environmental sociology, public understanding of science, scientific mentality, Germany, Britain

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Risk, Trust and 'The Beyond' of the Environment: A Brief Look at the Recent Case of Mad Cow Disease in the United States. Michael S. Carolan

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