Risk Society - Reconsidered in a drug context

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This article attempts to test Ulrich Beck's theoretical concept of risks as presented in his work Risk Society. It questions whether the risks of modern drugs can be explained and understood through the theoretical framework of a Risk Society. Based on a case study of the psychotropic drug fluoxetine, better known as Prozac®, we show how risks associated with modern drugs are induced by socially constructed technological artefacts and are capable of producing risk on an objective as well as non-objective global level. Here, risks are invisible to individuals and sometimes to social perception as a consequence of their non-objective nature. The transformation of side-effects from a traditional individual level (physical and psychological) to a collective level (economic, societal and ethical) illustrates the new dynamics of risk associated with modern drugs. We conclude that the risks of modern drugs fall within Beck's definition of risks of modernity, and that risk of drugs is expanding beyond control mechanisms and the fixed understandings of relations between medicine and society. As a sociological diagnosis of contemporary society, Risk Society appears to be the theoretical framework which best explains the risk trends of social medicine and pharmacy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

    Research areas

  • Drugs, Globalisation, Risk

ID: 228774797