What is Ulrich Becks' view re: class being a zombie concept?Have other social divisions such as sexuality, exclusion and race replaced class
Becks believes that class is a zombie categorization, that is to say one that persists in name but does not actively continue to be important or useful. Becks believes that Western countries have move beyond class as a significant category, and that the imagery of class is preserved only because presently there are not better alternatives.
Becks believes that peoples' individual lifestyles including sexuality, participation in work/labor, etc. make class categorizations useless. Instead one must look at societal changes that bring rapid wealth and poverty, changes in society as a whole, and the individualistic nature of most people's lives in Western societies. Inequality still exists and is perhaps stronger than ever, but class is not relevant.
Beck has argued that older forms of class structure - based mainly on the accumulation of wealth - atrophy in a modern, risk society, in which people occupy social risk positions that are achieved through risk aversion. "In some of their dimensions these follow the inequalities of class and strata positions, but they bring a fundamentally different distribution logic into play". Beck contends that widespread risks contain a 'boomerang effect', in that individuals producing risks will also be exposed to them. This argument suggests that wealthy individuals whose capital is largely responsible for creating pollution will also have to suffer when, for example, the contaminants seep into the water supply. This argument may seem oversimplified, as wealthy people may have the ability to mitigate risk more easily by, for example, buying bottled water. Beck, however, has argued that the distribution of this sort of risk is the result of knowledge, rather than wealth. Whilst the wealthy person may have access to resources that enable him or her to avert risk, this would not even be an option were the person unaware that the risk even existed