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“young Males Take More Voluntary Risks Than Any Other Social Group”

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Essay title: “young Males Take More Voluntary Risks Than Any Other Social Group”

Since Beck (1992) claimed that we are now living in a “risk society” there has been an abundance of sociological research surrounding the subject. Most recently the idea of voluntary risk taking has been brought to the fore front of sociological debate. It is clear that in a society where people spend a great deal of time avoiding risks there are also people actively seeking to take part in risks. Why is this the case, and are there certain groups within society more prone to this type of risk-taking behaviour than others?

In order to address this two part question effectively it is first of all necessary to discuss what voluntary risk-taking is referring to. Once this has been summarized it is then necessary to discuss the various sociological accounts of the pleasures of voluntary risk-taking, the work of such writers as Lyng (1990), Miller (1991) and Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky (1982) will be examined. Finally I will use case studies from Morrongiello and Dawber (1999), Chan and Rigakos (2002) and Green (1997) in order to assess whether there are gender differences in levels of voluntary risk-taking. This will allow me to conclude that voluntary risk-taking is a gendered subject whereby females and males are more inclined to participate in different types of voluntary risk-taking; this is due to a number of factors such as early socialisation processes, peer group and media.

Firstly it is important to define the term ‘voluntary risk-taking’. Probably the most in-depth study into voluntary risk-taking has been completed by Lyng (1990). He describes a specific type of voluntary risk-taking, so much so he terms this type ‘edgework’. This is a type of voluntary risk-taking which has a strong possibility of serious injury or death. He terms this idea, ‘edgework’ as it is the type of voluntary risk-taking that has a sense of being between zones, almost a sense of liminality of pushing oneself to the absolute limits which in turn instigates a sense of being on the edge between order and chaos. Using this type of definition for voluntary risk-taking Lyng (1990) discovered that most of the participants in this type of risk taking or ‘edgework’ thought that in order to

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