Setting out to challenge various common assumptions in risk research, this collection explores how uncertainty is handled in a range of social contexts across the globe. Social science research often emphasises the salience of risk and uncertainty for grasping the dynamics of late-modern societies, with theoretical frameworks tending to associate the emergence of risk with particular, fairly homogenous, European or ‘North-Western’ paths of modernisation. These theoretical narratives can be seen as shaping various assumptions regarding ‘risk cultures’, not least associations with post-traditional, largely secular and liberal characteristics. Risk is therefore analysed in terms of modern, active, ‘rational’ citizens, meanwhile faith, hope or magic are implicitly relegated to the past, the oriental, the passive and/or the irrational.
Central to the book is the consideration of risk across a range of different modernities. While the precise meaning and organisational processes of risk vary, we see the common combining of risk, faith, magic and hope as people go forward amid uncertain circumstances. Whether seeking health amid illness, survival amid flooding, or safety amid migration, we explore the pertinence of risk around the globe. We also stress the ubiquity of faith and the magical in various modern settings. This book was originally published as a special issue of Health, Risk & Society.
Table of Contents
1. Theorising uncertainty and risk across different modernities: considering insights from ‘non-North-Western’ studies Patrick Brown
2. Engaging with risk in non-Western settings: an editorial Nicola Desmond
3. Anthropology and risk: insights into uncertainty, danger and blame from other cultures – A review essay Andy Alaszewski
4. Faith and uncertainty: migrants’ journeys between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore Loïs Bastide
5. Applying the risk society thesis within the context of flood risk and poverty in Jakarta, Indonesia Roanne Van Voorst
6. Coping with health-related uncertainties and risks in Rakhine (Myanmar) Celine Coderey
7. Performing prevention: risk, responsibility, and reorganising the future in Japan during the H1N1 pandemic Mari J. Armstrong-Hough
8. Purity and danger: shamans, diviners and the control of danger in premodern Japan as evidenced by the healing rites of the Aogashima islanders Jane Alaszewska and Andy Alaszewski
Patrick Brown is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is Deputy Editor of Health, Risk & Society and has published widely on topics of trust, hope, risk and related ways in which organisations, groups and individuals handle uncertainty.