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Gambling, Capitalism and the State: Towards a New Dialectic of the Risk Society?

Young, Martin (2010). Gambling, Capitalism and the State: Towards a New Dialectic of the Risk Society?. Journal of Consumer Culture,10(2):254-273.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Gambling, Capitalism and the State: Towards a New Dialectic of the Risk Society?
Author Young, Martin
Journal Name Journal of Consumer Culture
Publication Date 2010
Volume Number 10
Issue Number 2
ISSN 1469-5405   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-77954986593
Start Page 254
End Page 273
Total Pages 20
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd.
Abstract In this article I explore the relationships between commercial gambling and late capitalism. In particular, I am interested in the societal forces that produce gambling as a contemporary form of consumption, which I define as the state-sanctioned commodification of chance.As a theoretical entry point, I employ the typology of games devised by French sociologist Roger Caillois in his 1961 volume Man, Play, Games. Specifically, I develop Caillois's distinction between competitive or agônistic games (the ancient Greek word meaning contest or challenge) and those based on chance or alea (the ancient Greek for playing at a game of chance of any kind). I extend these categories beyond a concern with the individual game to explore the tensions between the increasingly aleatory trends of the risk society, the agônistic forces of gambling production (i.e. the state and industry) and the aleatory nature of individual consumption. I argue that the expansion of gambling products is due to the state's own position as aleatory subject within late capitalism. I suggest that the concern with the risk minimization of the risk society and the massive expansion of alea through gambling are dialectically related. In other words, the risk society produces a corollary - a demand for risk - in the production of alea.This contradiction is resolved through the consumption of alea as a form of controllable, bounded, and individualized risk, one that is able to be consumed free of the broader global anxieties of the risk society. Finally, I argue that aleatory consumption itself opens up the possibility of a series of misrecognitions between production and consumption, ones that, in combination with the ideology of chance, conceal the agônistic realm of production by enabling consumers to adopt individualized orientations towards consumption. Copyright
Keywords agôn
risk society
the state
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Created: Fri, 29 Aug 2014, 17:34:07 CST by Anthony Hornby