Beck's Risk Society and Giddens' Search for Ontological Security: A Comparative Analysis Between the Anthroposophical Society and the Assemblies of God

Alphia Possamai-Inesedy


There is a contention by social theorists such as Beck, Giddens, Bauman and Lash that contemporary Western society is in a transitional period in which risks have proliferated as an outcome of modernisation. In accordance with these changes individuals' sense of selfhood have moved toward being more sensitive as to what they define as risks, such as threats to their health, as economic security or emotional wellbeing than they were in previous eras. Living in such a world can lead individuals to what Giddens would term ontological insecurity. Obsessive exaggeration of risks to personal existence, extreme introspection and moral vacuity are characteristics of the ontologically insecure individual. The opposite condition, ontological security, when achieved, leaves the individual with a sense of continuity and stability, which enables him or her to cope effectively with risk situations, personal tensions and anxiety. This emergent field of study in sociology has nevertheless poorly addressed religious issues; as if these social researchers have omitted parts of the religious aspects of contemporary society. This article attempts to fill this lacuna and explores the notion of risk society and ontological security with that of postmodern religion/spiritualities. Two case studies of the Anthroposophical society and Pentecostalism aid in this task.

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