Law in the Risk Society

Country: Netherlands

City: Utrecht

Abstr. due: 01.01.2015

Dates: 09.04.15 — 10.04.15

Area Of Sciences: Law; Sociology;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Utrecht University


In 2016, it will be thirty years ago that Ulrich Beck published hisRisikogesellschafft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne (Risk Society – Towards a New Modernity). The essence of the book is that contemporary modern society is confronted with the side effects of the successes of the processes of industrialisation and individualisation. This confrontation is visible in, amongst others, the (social) consequences of climate change, industrial activity and linear economic growth, the shift of focus from freedom to security, preven­tion and precaution, the disembeddedness of groups and individuals, and the deepening of inequality in terms of both wealth and risk exposure. Beck suggests that to seek answers to the questions this confron­tation gives rise to, we need to be reflexive upon the intellectual foundations of modernity. For lawyers and legal scholars, it means to explore and possibly reconsider the legal foundations of the “modern project”, their concepts and methodology, in order to deal effectively and justly with these side effects. This can have consequences for the foundations of accountability and liability law, but also changes the relations between public and private regulatory systems that concern modern risks.

This need for reflexivity is explored in the general theme of the conference illustrated above and in nine subthemes. The subthemes are:

Subtheme 1    Regulatory failures and new forms of risk regulation in modern risk society           

Subtheme 2    From prevention of risks to imputation of consequences; duties of care, positive obligations and causation

Subtheme 3    Risk, poverty and global justice

Subtheme 4   Social and private consequences of social risks and safety risks in the “participation society”: rethinking the welfare state?

Subtheme 5    Responsibility of corporate entities for human rights and environmental risks in host countries

Subtheme 6    Risk commodification and the economic opportunities of the risk society

Subtheme 7    TBA

Subtheme 8    The risk society and the need for a new methodology for research and education

Subtheme 9    Student research – Master and beginning PhD students

Conference Web-Site: