Week 10 Critical Discussion Questions
Bell- Invitation, Chapter 9, “The Rationality of Risk”
1. What does the theory of rational risk assessment argue? What critiques of this perspective does Bell discuss?
2. What is the cultural perspective of risk? What does Bell mean when he says there has developed a “culture of risk”? How does this correspond with Bell’s discussion of Ulrich Beck’s theory of “risk society”?
3. What is the distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” disasters? Why is this distinction more complicated than it may seem?
Futrell, Robert. 2001. The Expendable City: Las Vegas and the Limits of Sustainability. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 26:1, 81-111. 1. What is the difference between the risks of preindustrial society and industrial society? How does this create what Kai Erikson calls a “new species of trouble”?
2. What does Futrell mean when he says that risk society is a “systemic” issue with a “general complicity”? Who is to blame for the contemporary “risk society”?
3. What is the distinction between risk winners and risk losers? What social, economic, and environmental evidence does Futrell use to argue that Las Vegas is likely to be a risk loser or “expendable city”?
Erikson, Kai. 1994. A New Species of Trouble. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 139-157; 203-225. 1. What does Erikson mean by a “new species of trouble’? What are the characteristics of these troubles? What makes these troubles so dreadful to people?
2. How are the Three-Mile Island incident and Yucca Mountain examples of this new species of trouble? Is nuclear power the only culprit of these troubles?