Risk and blame : essays in cultural theory / Mary Douglas.
- London ; New York : Routledge, 1992.
xii, 323 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
- Risk -- Sociological aspects.
Risk -- Sociological aspects.
71.59 culture: other (sociology)
- The idea of risk has recently risen to prominence in political debate and in matters of public policy. Cognitive psychology treats decision-making as a private personal act. But in real life dangers are presented in standardized forms which pre-code the individual's choices. This collection follows on from the programme for studying risk and blame that was implied in Purity and Danger and has been developed in subsequent publications. Its first six essays argue that any analysis of risk perception that ignores cultural and political bias is worthless. For the sake of a mistaken idea of objectivity, research on risk perception tries to avoid politics, but the idea of nature is inherently politicized. The study of risk needs a systematic framework of political and cultural comparison. The next five essays range over questions in cultural theory. A culture is viewed as a way of life which standardizes concepts and values. It is held steady by the institutions in which it is articulated. Questions of autonomy, credibility and gullibility, the social origins of wants, and the recognition of distinctive thought styles are at present only beginning to be treated systematically in a framework of cultural analysis. Now that risk is moving centre-stage as the dominant idiom of policy analysis, many other key topics, such as the notion of the self, will need to be radically revised. In Risk and Blame, Mary Douglas argues that the prominence of risk discourse will force upon the social sciences a programme of rethinking and consolidation which will include the anthropological approaches studied in these pages.
- pt. I. Risk and blame
Risk and blame
Risk and justice
Risk and danger
Witchcraft and leprosy : two strategies for rejection
The self as risk-taker : a cultural theory of contagion in relation to AIDS
pt. II. Wants and institutions
The normative debate and the origins of culture
No free gifts : introduction to Mauss's essay on The gift
Institutions of the third kind : British and Swedish labour markets compared
Autonomy and opportunism
pt. III. Believing and thinking
Thought style exemplified : the idea of the self
A credible biosphere
The debate on women priests
The Hotel Kwilu : a model of models.
- Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
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