Skip to main content

Fear and Anxiety in the Risk Society

  • 164 Accesses

Part of the Crime Prevention and Security Management book series (CPSM)


The tramp on the bench; beggars living in the doorways of upmarket shops; the hidden security agenda behind the phrase “twenty-four-hour concierge service”; whole districts of urban society cut adrift and given over to dereliction; private security, sometimes ostentatious, sometimes intended to be unobtrusive. These discrete phenomena have become tangled up with all the glitter and extravagant displays of wealth and indulgence that exist alongside them. It is a juxtaposition that is emblematic of the divisions running through these societies that the freeing of risk and the attendant restructuring of these societies has helped to bring about. But these sights of dereliction, the unspoken awareness of them, the taken-for-granted presence of private security to keep these unwanted spectacles at a safe distance in the absence of the state’s ability to do so have a deeper significance. They are pointers to the dark side of risk, that other side of its duality. This other path that has become available from the 1980s—running parallel to the one that signals riches, splendour, excitement and indulgence—is fraught with disasters that many will also experience in the course of their lives, interrupting and reversing their journey along the path to success. Or they are constantly worried that these disasters might be lying in wait for them.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-48872-7_5
  • Chapter length: 46 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-48872-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)


  1. 1.

    This catalogue of disasters included asbestos-related claims; the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 that killed 167 people; the Piper Alpha oil production platform in the North Sea that exploded in 1988, killing 167 people, as well as damage from ferocious storms in Northern Europe. But “it was asbestos which brought the most financial devastation. In the early 1980s, the volume of [related] diseases stood at 6000 a year. Ten years later, this had increased to 24,000” (Griffin and Inman 2000).

  2. 2.

    A Ponzi scheme is “a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors contribute new funds, and as long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they are purported to own” (Wikipedia, s.v.b).

  3. 3.

    When the term first appeared in discourse in the 1960s in the UK, it was as a reference to national esteem and standing. From the 1980s onwards, it shifted to a growing awareness of the need to enhance and safeguard personal health, particularly as new risks (different forms of cancer especially) became known to it.

  4. 4.

    Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

  5. 5.

    “Megan’s Law” (named after the sexual murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994) is a federal statute requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders. The level of information that is made available differs from state to state.

  6. 6.

    The Guardian, for example, reported that “‘Police Telling Victims to Solve Crimes by Themselves.’ Watchdog concerned about ‘surprising’ trend for a DIY approach to offences such as car crime and criminal damage. Crime victims are increasingly being told by some police forces to carry out their own investigations by speaking to neighbours, checking for CCTV images and seeing if their stolen property has been put up for sale on secondhand websites” (Travis 2014).

  7. 7.

    As regards the US, for example, “Since 9/11, white supremacists and other far-right extremists have been responsible for almost three times as many attacks on U.S. soil as Islamic terrorists, the government reported. From 2009 through 2018, the far right has been responsible for 73% of domestic extremist-related fatalities, according to a 2019 study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). And the toll is growing. More people—49—were murdered by far-right extremists in the U.S. last year than in any other year since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995” (Bergenruen and Hennigan 2019).


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to John Pratt .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Pratt, J. (2020). Fear and Anxiety in the Risk Society. In: Law, Insecurity and Risk Control. Crime Prevention and Security Management. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-48871-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-48872-7

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)