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Who is responsible in winter? Traffic accidents, the fight against hazardous weather and the role of law in a history of risks

Wer ist im Winter verantwortlich? Verkehrsunfälle, der Kampf gegen gefährliches Wetter und die Rolle des Rechts in der Risikogeschichte
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Itzen, Peter


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Abstract This paper analyses the role of law in modern risk debates. Inspired by concepts of historical anthropology, it proposes to put more effort into the historical analysis of law and legal debates in order to understand long-term change in the history of everyday life. The paper takes the discussions on the establishment of a winter service in Germany in the first decades of the twentieth century as an example for this, and demonstrates how legal experts reflected changed perceptions of both nature and related everyday risks and gave them a practical legal meaning by integrating them into existing and widely accepted legal concepts. By doing so, the legal discourse on hazardous weather conditions added significantly to the paradigm shift towards a greater role of the state in the mitigation of everyday risks. As in other debates on everyday risks, law functioned as a hinge between risk perception and risk management.
Keywords everyday life; traffic accident; risk; perception; risk management; exertion of government pressure; law; Nazism; superhighway; road traffic; security; cultural anthropology; Germany; German Reich
Classification General History; Law
Free Keywords historical anthropology
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 154-175
Journal Historical Social Research, 41 (2016) 1
Issue topic Risk as an analytical category: selected studies in the social history of the twentieth century
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works