1st Edition

Apocalyptic Narratives Science, Risk and Prophecy

By Hauke Riesch Copyright 2021
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    Linking literature from the sociological study of the apocalyptic with the sociology and philosophy of science, Apocalyptic Narratives explores how the apocalyptic narrative frames and provides meaning to contemporary, secular and scientific crises focussing on nuclear war, general environmental crisis and climate change in both English- and German-speaking cultural contexts.

    In particular, the book will use social identity and representation theories, the sociologies of risk and Lakatos’ philosophy of science to trace how our cultural background and apocalyptic tradition shape our wider interpretation, communication and response to contemporary global crisis. The set of environmental and other challenges that the world is facing is often framed in terms of apocalyptic or existential crisis. Yet apocalyptic fears about the near future are nothing new. This book looks at the narrative connections between our current sense of crisis and the apocalyptic.

    The book will be of interest to readers interested in environmental crisis and communication, the sociology and philosophy of science, and existential risk, but also to readers interested in the apocalyptic and its contemporary relevance.

    1. Introduction

    2. Making sense of how we make sense of the world

    3. The meaning of death and the making of time

    4. Apocalyptic visions

    5. What to know and how to know it

    6. Risk

    7. Utopias

    8. Nuclear apocalypse and the nature of evil

    9. Environmental apocalypse and the nature of nature

    10. Climate apocalypse and the nature of prophecy

    11. The end is near!


    Hauke Riesch is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Brunel University London, researching science communication and the sociology and philosophy of science.

    "For Riesch, ‘apocalypse’ is a ‘diffuse’ concept with roots in Jewish and Christian thinking, but that in contemporary Western societies is ‘cultural baggage that we carry around with us and that we use to make sense of new and otherwise bewildering threats to our existence’ (p. 4). The book considers how this ‘cultural baggage’ has shaped policy responses to a range of ‘bewildering threats,’ including climate change, nuclear war, pandemics, asteroid strikes, and geological cataclysms. Riesch argues that paying greater attention to religious discourses might provide public officials and scientists with more robust communicative tools for tackling ecological crises."

    Michael J. McVicar,  Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 1–3, https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.23625