The risks of social reproduction: the middle class and education markets
Risk is almost an obligatory concept in social theory and analysis these days although it has a plurality of meanings.1 We live, as some theorists put it, in a ‘risk society’. Risk society according to Beck (1998, p. 10) is ‘the end of nature and the end of tradition’; and it is ‘a society increasingly preoccuppied with the future’ (Giddens, 1998, p. 27). Risks are diverse and new forms are constantly arising. There is an ‘over-production’ of risk. We are all effected and Beck suggests: ‘Risks display an equalizing effect’ (1992, p. 35). We face the brittle uncertainties of individual self-management, as Beck sees it, alone and ‘fragmented across (life) phases, space and time’ (1997, p. 26). This is a bleak and elemental social world. Concomitantly ‘risk monitoring presupposes agency, choice, calculation and responsibility’ (Elliott, 2002, p. 298) – both individualisation and reflexivity.