chapter  6
Critical Risk Management: Moral Entrepreneurship in the Management of Patient Safety
Pages 16

The language of risk has come to feature signifi cantly within contemporary culture, and politics (Lupton, 1999; Power, 2007). We are constantly warned, for example, of the health risks from activities such as smoking, the risks to employment from economic downturns, and the risks to the environment from burning fossil fuels. The increased prominence of ‘risk’ is underpinned by the burgeoning and, seemingly, indeterminate dangers associated with technological and social change, which are the subject of fervent debate (Taylor-Gooby and Zinn, 2006). A cursory review of the print news at the time of writing (The Guardian, May 5, 2009) found reference to the risks of ‘swine fl u’, extreme diets, mining in the Hindu Kush, and umemployment and economic downturn in the wake of the ‘credit crunch’ (Boone, 2009; Campbell, 2009; Finch, 2009; Jha et al. 2009; Meikle and Connolly, 2009; Wray, 2009). Whereas once the language of risk may have been associated with the technical and rational goal of bringing certainty to issues of uncertainty, within contemporary society this language has itself become the focus of doubt as risks have become increasingly global in character and the focus of individual action (Beck, 1992). At a time when the management of risk is common to virtually all aspects of social life, it is important to raise questions about the inherent implications for social order and power.