Mapping the territory of economic risk

Donoghue, Geraldine (2010) Mapping the territory of economic risk. In Velayutham, S., Ebert, N., & Watkins, S. (Eds.) TASA 2010 Conference Proceedings : Social Causes, Private Lives, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), Sydney, NSW, pp. 1-16.

View at publisher (open access)


It is widely contended that we live in a „world risk society‟, where risk plays a central and ubiquitous role in contemporary social life. A seminal contributor to this view is Ulrich Beck, who claims that our world is governed by dangers that cannot be calculated or insured against. For Beck, risk is an inherently unrestrained phenomenon, emerging from a core and pouring out from and under national borders, unaffected by state power. Beck‟s focus on risk's ubiquity and uncontrollability at an infra-global level means that there is a necessary evenness to the expanse of risk: a "universalization of hazards‟, which possess an inbuilt tendency towards globalisation.

While sociological scholarship has examined the reach and impact of globalisation processes on the role and power of states, Beck‟s argument that economic risk is without territory and resistant to domestic policy has come under less appraisal. This is contestable: what are often described as global economic processes, on closer inspection, reveal degrees of territorial embeddedness. This not only suggests that "global‟ flows could sometimes be more appropriately explained as international, regional or even local processes, formed from and responsive to state strategies – but also demonstrates what can be missed if we overinflate the global.

This paper briefly introduces two key principles of Beck's theory of risk society and positions them within a review of literature debating the novelty and degree of global economic integration and its impact on states pursuing domestic economic policies. In doing so, this paper highlights the value for future research to engage with questions such as "is economic risk really without territory‟ and "does risk produce convergence‟, not so much as a means of reducing Beck's thesis to a purely empirical analysis, but rather to avoid limiting our scope in understanding the complex relationship between risk and state.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

100 since deposited on 30 Jun 2014
31 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 39374
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Ulrich Beck, Globalization, Risk Society, Economic Risk, Economic Integration, Sociology of risk
ISBN: 9780646546285
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Research and Commercialisation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Please consult the author
Deposited On: 30 Jun 2014 22:27
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2014 04:03

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page