A Society Preoccupied with Risk and an Economy Unable to Think Past the Length of its _____….

It’s becomes a difficult dichotomy when the same risks that emerge in society are fed to us by mega-corporations in a globalized economy. As Beck and Buell point out, the knowledge of risk is available only with the tools of education and income, as well as the ability to avoid some of those risks. How are we to know what is safe to eat, drink, wear, and use when we put our faith in the companies that make them, to make sure they are, and they aren’t? Even when we have federal organizations like the FDA who are suppose to filter things like this. Its scary to think that even corporations whom we think to be healthier and more environmentally”friendly” are sued for human harm i.e. Odwalla. Who are behind these companies which we think to be from local farmers and on another level then the other products on the shelf? Well in the case of Odwalla its Coca-Cola, the Nike of the beverage market! Or what about Monsanto and the rBGH in Milk? ” Does a Body Good.”

Sadly the list goes on. Mega-corporations are taking over both production and advertisement, essentially controlling consumption. There are but a handful of organizations that own the media and their monopolizing grip continues to tighten.

We are a nation of democracy, but few of our powerful structures are such. The structure of military and of these corporations are not conducive to democracy, they are hierarchical structures in which he have no say.  Mega- corporations don’t respond to the voices of the polis, nor do they respond to the voices of government. These corporations more often then not would rather pay the fines they are issued in order to continue serving their short term interest rather then change their ways. It was recently estimated that the world’s top firms are responsible for $2.2 Trillion in environmental damage, but can you really put a price on that? And do consumers know the externalities of their purchases when they go to buy a T-shirt, or a cup of coffee? Let alone the the impact of public policy and goods: water and waste.

We can’t help but live in a risk-society, it is and will be a part of our daily lives forever. But how do we live as safely as possible in the face of giants? Risks are folded into every purchase we make by the companies that make them and we rarely will know what those are. We demand alternatives yet even those become corporatized, or are not as safe or environmentally friendly as we assume. Someone may become a vegetarian thinking that it is a safer and healthier and or environmentally responsible diet, but where does the soy you eat come from? What was done to the land to make room for those soy bean fields, and what do you think happens when animals start grazing on them? They shoot them, or they die from the toxicity of herbicides : )

Illegal deforestation to make room for soy field in Brazil

So what are we to do? I don’t know I just know things are messed up, and information and knowledge about the companies behind the labels we buy, is the first step to any form of change, though acquiring that knowledge is becoming more and more difficult, with companies attempting to skew their brand logos images and company mission statement more favorably i.e. Green-washing

If you care to laugh in the face of this… %^$%#


3 Responses to “A Society Preoccupied with Risk and an Economy Unable to Think Past the Length of its _____….”

  1. Shane Rud Says:

    It’s messed up what corporations are doing. I don’t even feel like I have a freedom of eating a purely healthy diet. Food is so juiced up with processed and artificial additives that it isn’t really food. One thing that has shocked me, is MSG and how terrible it is for you. That stuff is in everything. Even labels that say “No MSG Added” really just means that they didn’t add extra MSG to the MSG thats already in there. But in reality, MSG takes different forms like yeast extract, soy powder, citric acid, maltodextrin and even caramel color. Even buying produce that isn’t organic contains MSG in most pesticides. The corporations don’t care if it’s horrible for you, just as long as it tastes good so they have their multi-million dollar paycheck.

  2. Brian Nichols Says:

    Tyler has some good points on how corporate interests control (through media) what the public consumes. In a similar manner, Ulrich Beck in his essay, “Politics of Risk Society,” argues that although corporations have control of the media, they do not seem to have control over the environmental pollution which they cause. Beck then argues such environmental pollution has turned us into a risk society in which, “internal risks are generated by the process of modernization which try to control them” (Beck 587). Frederick Buell would term such a risk society as hyperactive. He follows Beck’s line of thought and argues that society with its technology as created environmental problems at a faster rate than in the past and thus society has “become structurally unable to contain the hazards it produces. This means that its hazards become both uncontrollable and unpunishable” (Buell 193). In similar manner, Becks argues that, “In the age of risk, society becomes a laboratory with nobody responsible for the outcomes of the experiments” (Beck 588). Beck argues that this is because of the complex relationship between corporate interests and politics in which it becomes hard to narrow down fault.

  3. coolaccordionest Says:

    The documentary video on Round-Up and big corporations is fantastic. This issue really hits close to home for me with my grandfather having cancer because of it. I don’t believe that the general public realizes how dangerous the round-up and fertilizers still are today. People only worry about “the now” rather than “the later.” If the side effects happened right away to the people using/consuming these products I think there would be a revolution against these corporations promoting it.
    It makes me sick. (And makes me want to watch the whole thing!)

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