Living in a Risk Society

Subject SOCI30009 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 contact hours per week: A 2-hour lecture per week and a 1-hour tutorial per week for 10 weeks. The lecture and tutorial programs are staggered and cover the 12 weeks of semester.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Sociology at Levels 1 & 2

Non Allowed Subjects:

166-306 Living in a Risk Society

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Jens Zinn


Assoc. Prof. Jens Zinn:

Subject Overview:

For good practical and theoretical reasons, risk and uncertainty have emerged as central themes in social science. More flexible labour markets, greater freedom to divorce, cohabit and re-partner and greater diversity in lifestyles erode the certainty with which people can map out their futures. Step-changes in the complexity and scale of technological innovation enable rapid rise in living standards, and, at the same time, bring the possibility of major catastrophes closer. Unexpected disasters, from the Challenger Space Shuttle to Chernobyl, from the Herald of Free Enterprise to Exxon Valdez remind us of the limits to our capacity for control. This course will give an overview to interdisciplinary and sociological approaches to risk and a better understanding why we are concerned about risks and how we can deal with risks and uncertainty as a society but also individually in everyday life. It will show the limits of objectivist understandings of risk and will explore the involvement of values, power, knowledge and emotions in the realm of risk.


Students who complete this subject will have:

  • A good understanding of contemporary risks and uncertainties
  • A good overview about major social sciences approaches to risk
  • The ability for critical and reflexive judgements about reasonable strategies to deal with risk and uncertainties
  • A good understanding of the different dimensions (values, power, complexity etc.) involved in societal and everyday life risk issues
  • An understanding of the multi-disciplinary character of risk

A literature review of 1000 words (25%) due mid-semester. and a research essay of 3000 words (75%) due during the examination period.

This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% Tutorial attendance. Students who fail to meet this hurdle requirement will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment or sit the final examination.Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Reading material will be available via the subject's LMS site

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Have developed the capacity to think logically, creatively and critically.
  • have developed research and analytical skills.
  • have developed the capacity to think in theoretical terms and to link theory to empirical findings.
  • have developed an understanding of the socio-cultural and institutional contexts of research and theorizing.
  • have developed skills in written and oral communication, time management and planning.

SOCI30009 will be offered in Semester 2, 2012

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Social Theory
Social Theory Major
Sociology Major
Related Breadth Track(s): Sociology

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