Economists Say There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. The burgeoning ‘risk industry’ – no doubt set for further expansion after the terrorist attacks on US heartlands in 2001 – says there is no such thing as a risk-free lunch. Anthropologists say there is no such thing as a blame-free risk. And political scientists know blame is central to politics.
The growth of the ‘risk industry’, the associated explosion in discussion of safety and hazard issues and the search for better ways of assessing and managing risk, has been much commented on. The BSE issue, highlighted in the UK by the blockbuster sixteen-volume Phillips report in 2000, is taken by Ulrich Beck as emblematic of what he claims to be a ‘risk society’. Michael Power says an age of ‘new risk management’ has dawned in corporate governance, sparked by high-profile business failures and accidents. Much academic and media attention has been paid to risks from food, electric power lines, mobile phones, dangerous people, even dangerous dogs (ostensibly a rather traditional risk, but one that in recent years has been the subject of draconian new regulatory regimes in several countries, including France, Spain and Germany). Such developments in the ‘risk game’ have been described by best-selling sociologists like Beck and Giddens (who make much of their world-historical significance in an era of ‘high modernity’) and by social psychologists interested in what shapes risk perception or ‘amplification’.