Citizens of modern societies are richer than any previous generation. They also face a higher level of uncertainty in their daily lives than those who lived during the decades of confident ecomic growth. Research on the way people perceive and cope with risk is urgently needed. This book presents a theoretical discussion of risk and uncertainty in everyday life, reinforced with new national empirical studies of responses to risk in areas ranging from lone parenthood to medicine, from house purchase to long-term care, from personal finance to the welfare state. It shows that the leading assumption in many areas of public policy - that behaviour is mainly conditioned by a deliberative and rational self-interest - is seriously misleading. The new policies that rely on financial incentives delivered through benefits or subsidies to encourage particular ways of behaving are unlikely to achieve their objectives. They may also undermine the framework of trust that sustains an inclusive social citizenship.
Peter Taylor-Gooby is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent, UK. He chairs the British Academy New Paradigms in Public Policy Programme and the HEFCE Social Work and Social Policy Panel. His recent publications include New Paradigms in Public Policy, Reframing Social Citizenship, Risk in Social Science (with Jens Zinn), Ideas and the Welfare State, and New Risks, New Welfare.