The sociological literature on risk and uncertainty is vast! This is an assorted list of key readings recommended by network members. Please feel free to make suggestions if you miss any crucial literature. Just drop any of the contacts a note.


Adams, John (1995): Risk. London: UCL (Is now rather outdated. It combines the thermostat model with the cultural approach).

Arnoldi, Jakob (2009): Risk. An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity (This is a most recent introduction which gives a good overview. It has a bias towards the risk society approach and is sometimes a bit brief.)

Boyne, Roy (2003): Risk. Buckingham: Open University Press

Denney, David (2005): Risk and Society. London: Sage publications (a focus on some social policy issues)

Lupton, Deborah (1999): Risk. London: Routledge (Is still a good introduction for undergraduate students)

Taylor-Gooby, Peter and O. Zinn, Jens (eds.) (2006): Risk in Social Science. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. (This introduction gives an overview about a number of different research areas such as the media, social inequality …)

Zinn, Jens (ed.) (2008): Social Theories of Risk and Uncertainty: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell (This intro might be a bit challenging for undergraduate students but give detailed introductions by experts of specific approaches to risk. It covers all the main approaches from risk society to systems theory and edgework)

Theoretical directions and research areas

Risk and Culture

Douglas, Mary & Wildavsky Aaron B. (1982): Risk and culture: an essay on the selection of technical and environmental dangers. Berkley: University of California Press

Douglas, Mary (1985): Risk acceptability according to the social sciences. New York: Russell Sage Foundation

Douglas, Mary (1992): Risk and blame: essays in cultural theory. New York: Routledge

Tulloch, John and Lupton, Deborah (2003): Risk and everyday life. London: Sage publications

Lupton, Deborah (ed.) (1999): Risk and Sociocultural Theory. New Directions and Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Risk society

Beck, Ulrich (1992): Risk Society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage publications

Beck, Ulrich (2009): World at Risk. Cambridge: Polity Press

Giddens, Anthony (1991): Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press

Giddens, Anthony (2000): Runaway world. New York: Routledge

Beck, Ulrich & Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth (2002): Individualization: institutionalized individualism and its social and political consequences. London: Sage

Adam, Barbara, Beck, Ulrich & van Loon, Joost (2000): The risk society and beyond: critical issues for social theory. London: Sage.



Foucault, Michel (1978): Governmentality. Ideology and Consciousness. vol. 6, pp. 5-12

Burchell, Graham, Gordon, Colin, Miller, Peter (1991): The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Dean, Mitchell (1999): Governmentality: power and rule in modern society. London: Sage

Rose, Nicholas (1999): The Powers of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

O’Malley, Pat (2004): Risk, Uncertainty and Government. London: Glashouse Press


System theory

Luhmann, Niklas (2005): Risk. A Sociological Theory. New Brunswick, N.J.: Aldine Transaction

Luhmann, Niklas (1989): Ecological communication. Cambridge: Polity Press



Lyng, Stephen (1990): Edgework: A Social Psychological Analysis of Voluntary Risk Taking. The American Journal of Sociology.95:4, 851-886

Lyng, Stephen (2005): Edgework. The Sociology of Risk-Taking. London: Routledge


Actor Network Theory

van Loon, Joost: (2002): Risk and Technological Culture. Towards a Sociology of Virulence. New York: Routledge

Latour, Bruno (2005): Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press


Risk Communication – Risk Perception

Slovic, Paul (2000): The Perception of Risk. London: Earthscan Publications

Pidgeon, Nick, E. Kasperson, Roger and Slovic, Paul (eds.) (2003): The Social Amplification of Risk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press