Friday, February 16, 2007

From modernity to reflexive modernization

Reflexivity is a concept that has been central to social scientific thought since the 1990s, after the writings of authors such as Beck, Giddens and Lash on modernity, risk and the cultural dimensions of contemporary environmental issues (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1991; Beck et al., 1994; Lash et al., 1996). Beck introduced the term "reflexive modernization" to designate a new stage of development which, according to him and others, society has entered. This new era is characterized by a change in the way society perceives its relation to the risks to which it is subjected.

In the previous era, known as “modernity”, society was exposed to risks generated by external factors such as nature, which society responded to by developing technologies to overcome risks and increase welfare.

In the current era of reflexive modernization, the principle risks to which society is exposed are no longer generated by nature, but by society itself: it is the unintended side-effects of technological development that currently pose the greatest threat
to our welfare. Rather than producing ever-increasing security and welfare for people, industrial society has come to produce ever-greater risks for people and the environment.

The notion of reflexive modernization has led to calls for the development of
institutions and approaches to decision making that foster reflexivity in the regulatory context (Hajer, 1995; Flyvbjerg, 2001). The extent to which a decision-making process can be considered reflexive hinges upon the ability of the policy community to recognize the limitations of the knowledge base underpinning a decision, draw upon the collective knowledge and experience of the past to design a policy, monitor and assess the effects of this policy, and adjust the policy accordingly.

My comments

Such policy requires a level of Quality Control in the execution:
Such policy is not only based on risk management but also, and more importantly, on quality control.

MR2005-202.pdf (application/pdf Object)

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