Risk society refers to an institutional, rules oriented and hierarchical order (values), while risk cultures highlight an indeterminate disorder (norms)


Although values are socially and culturally determined, their locus is primarily in the private realm. They refer, for example, to the core of private morality, language, religion, and forms of life surrounding birth, marriage, child rearing, and death (Lash, 2000). Thus we can say that the main difference between norms and values is in their locus. While norms are located in rules, values are located in symbols. This is of particular importance for distinguishing between the notions of risk society and risk cultures. Namely, the notion of risk society places a focus on the social and institutional, since the idea of society “presumes a determinate, institutional normative, rule-bound, and necessarily hierarchical ordering of individual members in regard to their utilitarian interests” (Lash, 2000, p. 47). In contrast, risk cultures “presume not a determinate ordering, but a reflexive or indeterminate disordering” and lie “in non-institutional and anti-institutional associations” (Lash, 2000, p. 47). In other words, in the concept of risk cultures risks are mediated by substantive values, while in the concept of risk society risks are mediated by norms.

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