Retailing and risk society: genetically modified food

Richard Pearce (Richard Pearceis a Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.)
Maria Hansson (Maria Hansson is a Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 1 December 2000

Abstract

Examines the social environment experienced by UK food retailers regarding the marketing of genetically modified (GM) foodstuffs. Beck’s notion of risk society provides a critical foundation for analysing retail organisations’ decision making under conditions of “post‐Enlightenment contemporary irrationality”. He advocates “understanding and conceptualisation” of “… insecurities of the contemporary spirit …”, arguing of these that it is “… ideologically cynical to deny and dangerous to yield to uncritically”. The paper also draws upon Habermas, who describes three phenomena that sensitise “new social movements”; reactions to perceptions of “excessive complexity”; the apparent undermining of nature’s “organic foundations”; and a feeling of “overburdening or distortion” in “communicative infrastructures”. These dynamics should all inform any socially sensitive retailer response. The paper is not ethically prescriptive, but seeks to illustrate critically how conceptualisations of risk contribute to the social construction of ethical issues.

Keywords

Citation

Pearce, R. and Hansson, M. (2000), "Retailing and risk society: genetically modified food", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 28 No. 11, pp. 450-459. https://doi.org/10.1108/09590550010356813

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Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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