This article presents about how the social risk definition is in sociology and the examples of social risks. It has further discussed the differences between old social risks and new social risks in this article. Most of developed countries address social risks through their impact investment policies. Also, You can read the Socially responsible impact investment policies from our previous article.
What is social risk?
There is not an exact definition for social risk. It is something terrible that might happen to society. The Cambridge dictionary identifies the society as “a large group of people who live together in an organized way, making decisions about how to do things and sharing the work that needs to be done. All the people in a country, or in several similar countries, can be referred to as a society”.
With these mean the term ‘Social risk’ can be simply identified as the possibility to happen something terrible, which can affect negatively to the common group. There was a lot of social risk in the past, which affected society economically, politically, environmentally, and socially all the time. This is the most accurate social risk definition in all the time.
The social problem and social risk are in the same category, but there are considerable differences in the scope. Basically, Social issues represent a much broader perspective. Mostly, a vast community; it can be a country, whole society, or the world; thus, it can be considered as Macro level. Social risks represent a much narrower group, as social categories, households, or individuals; therefore, it can be the micro-level of social problems.
The social risk definition divides into two main categories as Old social risks and New social risks.
Types of Social Risks
The reputed author Peter Taylor-Gooby has explained new social risks in his famous book ‘New risks – New welfare’ as “New social risks are the risks that people now face in the course of their lives as a result of the economic and social changes associated with the transition to a post-industrial society“. According to Peter, new risks have been arisen due to the socio, and economic changes occurred after the industrialization.
Examples of Social Risk
Basically, the old risks are taken a class-based approach, the scope and the effect is broader than new risks. For instances, disabled people, sick people, widows, older pensioners are old risks. On the other hand, the scope of new social risks is much narrower, but it can be significantly identified. Also, it has a life course explanation — for example, low skilled workers, single parents, immigrants, etc.
The key differences between old risks and new risks can be seen according to the Taylor-Gooby from two perspectives as citizens and the governments. The new risks have a more substantial impact on the range of people’s societal needs. Gooby further states, “New risks are significant but transitory and particular. They open up new issues about the moral assumptions behind welfare state policy-making.”
Social risks from Citizens perspective
According to the perspective of citizens, there are four characteristics, those are as follows:
- Successfully managing risks are significant, failure to cope with them properly will cause for the poverty, inequality and other substantial implications;
- Those are more significant to the younger generation than old risks, because of the properly entering labor market and establishing on it will decide all the future factors of them.
- The relevancy of new risks is less for the established paid employees or educated people; thus, it is more attached to the minorities those have not education or training, etc.
- New risks involve both labor market and family life.
Social risks from Government perspective
Taylor-Gooby further states that there are several differences between old risks and new risks from the perspective of government; those are as follows:
- The policies of old risks are focused on mainly horizontal redistribution, by involving financial commitments, including substantial taxes and social insurance contributions.
- The new risks affect particular subgroups, which cannot be easily identified as an ordinary class and party structures.
- New social risk policies are more often focused on the future labor market and people who tend to support the economy, not like the burden of old risks.
- New risk policies meet need mostly encouraging and enabling different choices and behavior patterns rather than providing benefits.
A.Giddens, is one of the sociologists who strictly considered a positive agenda on addressing the social risks by innovation. He has stated, “The new risks generate new constellations of interests, which cross-cut old social risk constituencies in complex ways. They bear particularly on women, on younger workers, and those without relevant skills. One hypothesis is that new cross-class alliances will emerge to pursue welfare state restructuring in a more diffuse ‘life-politics.”
The definition of social risks in sociology is bit of complex, however the types of social risks help to define the concept simply.