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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Reflexive Modernity and Risk Society

Mr Mahmoud Eid.

Building on the two themes at the heart of the reflexive modernization debate, reflexivity and risk, this paper investigates the connection between reflexive modernity and risk society by presenting and illustrating the views of Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens, the most prominent scholars of reflexive modernization. In their remarkably similar views, the project of modernity is a time of radicalization and renewal, in contrast to the postmodernist perspective which sees it as a time of fragmentation and dispersal. The paper explains Beck’s and Giddens’ objections to post-modernism, and compares the theories of radicalized modernity and post-modernity. An in-depth examination of the first theme of reflexive modernization, reflexivity, is followed by an explanation of the concept itself, given its importance in recent years and its replacement of post-modernity as the dominant concept. The concept of risk, the second theme, and the concept of world risk society are explained in detail. The nature of risk in modern society is examined and the opposing relationship between security and danger, trust and risk is discussed, as well as the emergence of the institutionalization of risk in modern society and the main characteristics and kinds of risk. By analyzing and comparing Beck’s and Giddens' views of contemporary society, as well exploring Lash and Urry’s critique, which focuses on the notion of aesthetic reflexivity, the paper explains the meaning of the concept of world risk society and its relationship with globalization; compares risk society to both industrial society and class society; and, most importantly, explores the interactive relationship between reflexive modernity and risk society, where reflexive modernization means self-confrontation with the effects of risk society.


Mr Mahmoud Eid  (Canada)
Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. Student
Mass Communication Program School of Journalism and Communication
Carleton University

Mahmoud Eid, T. A. & Ph.D. Student in Mass Communication Program, School of Journalism & Communication, Carleton University, Canada. Worked as a Lecturer of Crisis Management, Conflict Resolution, International Communication, Research Methods, Public Opinion, and Public Relations in Egyptian universities. Has a professional expertise in research, e.g. managing processes of data coding, entry, analysis, designing using statistical programs, and writing reports for quantitative and qualitative researches in fields of mass media effects, social development, and marketing.

  • Reflexive modernization
  • Reflexivity
  • Modernity
  • Risk society
  • Postmodernism
  • Aesthetic reflexivity
Person as Subject
  • Beck, Ulrich Giddens, Anthony Lash, Scott Urry, John

(Virtual Presentation, English)