ANTH3012 - The Study of Western Industrial Societies

Term 1


This course explores the social landscape of modern industrial society by focusing on dimensions of risk, power and uncertainty. Why so? Because, increasingly, the health of late modern societies is culturally evaluated more in terms of the hazards, risks and uncertainties they generate than in terms of the inequities, oppressions and alienations that they have normally been said to produce. The course will focus upon the reality or illusory nature of this shift towards risk; upon the reasons for this shift; upon the place of power in its operation; and upon its socio-cultural relations and effects.

The first part of the course examines religions, oracles and their impact upon the uncertainties of life and the afterlife and then moves on to consider key contributions in the anthropology of risk (Douglas) and the sociology of ‘the risk society (Beck), ‘ontological insecurity’ (Giddens) and the ‘culture of fear’ (Furedi). The second part of the course tackles specialist selected areas that will include genomic science and identity; cultures of terror; gambling and ‘casino capitalism’; adventure and extreme performance, chaos and complexity, gender and fear.


Taught by: Dr Allen Abramson
Assessmen 2 hour unseen written exam (60%) + 2000 words essay (40%)
Student Contact Hours:
2 hour seminar per week
Prerequisites: ANTH2006: Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives in Anthropology and Material Culture or permission from tutor. 3rd year students only
Option Type:
Social Anthropology

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