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Study Notes

Sociologist in Focus: Ulrich Beck

AS, A-Level

Last updated 26 Oct 2017

Ulrich Beck was born in a part of Germany in 1944, which is now part of Poland. He studied a variety of disciplines such as politics and philosophy at university but is perhaps best known for his work in the field of sociology, where he believed that we have entered a ‘reflexive’ period in the modern era that is characterised by uncertainty and insecurity.

He argued that developments in the fields of science and technology have themselves brought about problems such as global warming and increases in terrorism. For example, scientists appear to contradict one another’s findings, which in itself causes the general public to question science itself and he suggested that a loss of respect for experts generally creates this uncertainty. In turn, this has led what Beck has led to the emergence of a ‘risk society’, where we are now faced with issues that would have not faced society before.

Beck’s work is covered in units related to globalisation and modernity/post-modernity and would make useful links to recent political events such as Brexit, the election of Trump (and his campaign against fake news) and the rise of terrorist groups like ISIS. 

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