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Riding the Juggernaut in the Risk Society

NCJ Number
Child and Youth Services Volume: 29 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 71-101
Niall McElwee
Date Published
31 pages
This article locates risk discourse more solidly in a social scientific framework by providing a historical analysis of literature dealing with risk drawing from the fields of risk assessment and then social sciences.
There are irreconcilable and contested positions taken around the definition and understanding of risk. “Risk society” is the term used by social scientists to describe modern society, one where tradition has broken down and scientific advances rather than nature dominate our lives. The consequences of human actions across a range of areas have introduced new sources of risk and uncertainty which serve to emphasize the risk(s) involved in making everyday decisions. A central paradox to the risk society is that these risks are generated by the processes of modernization trying to control them. In a risk society, traditional certainties and securities can no longer be assumed. Fundamental to this understanding of risk society is the connected breakdown in expert systems which is particularly relevant to the world of child and youth care. This article discusses some of the literature on risk, and how risk pervades the lives of professionals involved in child protection and welfare, child and youth care, and special education. Notes, references