The Construction of Environmental Risks: Eco-Labelling in the European Union

  • Peter Simmons


The long-run social and technological changes that have shaped consumer society have been accompanied, in the late twentieth century, by an increasing public awareness of and concern with the anthropogenic risks that accompany these developments. Traditional societies were faced with natural hazards such as famine, disease or drought, hazards visited by the hand of providence. Modernity promised an end to the rule of nature through the application of scientific knowledge and technique. But with one of history’s inescapable ironies, the advance of modernisation has brought with it the proliferation of socially-produced risks. As the twentieth century has advanced these risks have become increasingly pervasive until, in their global implications, they far surpass the still-unconquered scourges of the past in their catastrophic potential. Today, as market relationships are insinuated into every sphere of our lives and the principle of consumer choice is declared to be sovereign, we are faced with a growing recognition that the market creates and circulates ‘bads’ as well as ‘goods’, and that the risks that threaten our well-being, and even our existence, are a product of human choices. With that recognition comes the anxiety that the consumer society’s horn of plenty might ultimately prove to be the last trump.


Life Cycle Assessment Animal Testing Ethical Consumer Consumer Society Body Shop 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Pekka Sulkunen, John Holmwood, Hilary Radner and Gerhard Schulze 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Simmons

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