chapter  6
33 Pages

The moment of direct action

Giddens has famously declared that new social movements (hereafter NSMs) have the potential to constrain the juggernaut of modernity (Giddens 1990: 158 et seq.), thus holding out the prospect of a form of social control over the apparently unstoppable bureaucratic pursuit of technocratic futures. Within Beck’s early work (Beck 1992) NSMs perform essentially similar work which becomes steadily more central within subsequent formulations emphasising the importance of forms of reflexive modernisation outside the ‘scientisation of science’ (e.g. Beck 1994, 1997). In this latter version NSMs and citizens in combination with the media represent an effectively middle-class source (Lash and Urry 1994) of critical reflection within the risk society. As previously discussed (Ch. 1) both these theories prioritise the role of ‘knowledge’ within this exercise of contestation and constraint.