A speculative age
So far my account of the relationship between ‘risk consciousness’ and anxiety has been conducted almost exclusively at the level of conceptual analysis. In this context, I have devoted the large part of my discussion to describing some of the ways in which debates surrounding the meaning and ‘reality’ of risk may be used to construct opposing theoretical accounts of the significance of public debates on risk for the experience of anxiety. Moreover, I have made an attempt to explain how developments within the technology of risk, as well as opposing political points of view on the ‘reality’ of the hazards we face, are involved in conflicting interpretations of the risk-anxiety relationship. Indeed, I have sought to highlight the extent to which the political commitments of writers such as Ulrich Beck and Mary Douglas may be influencing their respective choices of emphasis on risk as either the cause of anxiety, or alternatively, as a symbolic resource for coping with this condition.