Environment, Risk, and Ideology: The critical theory of the Frankfurt School and Ulrich Beck
ClassificationSociology--Theory and Methods
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AbstractThis thesis examines the social theories of Ulrich Beck and the first generation of the Frankfurt School to spur a debate on social transformation and environmental risk. In particular, this confrontation explores a key difference between these approaches—whereas the early Frankfurt School theorizes how society is capable of containing qualitative change, Beck emphasizes the forces which break apart this containment and transform society. This thesis raises the following critiques: (1) that the theory of risk society provides an insufficient account of power and (2) that the one-dimensionality thesis and the paradigm of the critique of instrumental reason problematizes the normative standpoint of critical theory. The analysis overcomes these key critiques by: (1) advocating for a framework of power and risk which accounts for the role of ideology as a means of social control and (2) attempting to limit the claims of the one-dimensionality thesis by demonstrating that risks have the potential to open up the totalizing system of domination theorized by the early Frankfurt School. In addition to these contributions, this thesis explores the importance of immanent critique as a basis for praxis and compares Marcuse’s vision for a ‘new science’ with Beck’s concept of ‘reflexive scientization’.
CitationTrottier, B. (2019). Environment, Risk, and Ideology: The critical theory of the Frankfurt School and Ulrich Beck (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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