"The idea of risk has recently risen to prominence in political debate, and has become the regular coinage of exchange in public policy." In "Risk and Blame," a collection of essays, Mary Douglas studies the concepts of risk and blame, and suggests how political and cultural bias can be incorporated into the study of risk perception and the discussion of reponsibility and danger in public policy.
"Risk and Blame" argues that any analysis of risk perception that ignores cultural and political bias is worthless. The text goes on to discuss questions of cultural theory, including questions of autonomy, credibility and gullibility, the origin of wants, and the idea of a distinctive thought style that is part of a way of life. Because these topics have so far only been lightly touched upon in the social sciences, risk perception is now moving center-stage as the dominant idiom of policy analysis, forcing radical reconsideration of other key topics.
In "Risk and Blame" Mary Douglas suggests that the prominence of risk discourse will force upon the social sciences a program of rethinking and consolidation which will include the anthropological approaches studied in these pages. The range of this book extends far beyond anthropology to philosophy, cultural theory, and organizational theory, making it a welcome text for anthropologists, philosophers, sociologists, and theorists.