Rhetoric of Risk and the Redistribution of Social Insurance

Martha Mccluskey

in Embracing Risk

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780226035185
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226035178 | DOI:
Rhetoric of Risk and the Redistribution of Social Insurance

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This chapter explores the social construction of risk in the context of contemporary social insurance debates. It emphasizes the relationship between insurance visions and the increasing inequality within and among societies. Instead of guaranteeing security, contemporary social insurance regimes entice people to take personal responsibility in return for potentially higher payoffs. Yet, popular culture's celebration of risk significantly depends on security. Thus, the chapter reveals a double standard: whether we embrace risk depends on who takes the risk and who gets the security. Risk and security depend on a morally based social vision—at some point, we must ask who deserves the risks and security. The chapter first analyzes this double standard by looking at workers compensation, which is often considered the founding social insurance program in the United States. It then explores two examples of social insurance aimed at protecting capital, both of which share the double standard of risk taking.

Keywords: social insurance; insurance visions; insurance regime; security; risk taking; United States

Chapter.  10128 words. 

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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