After Beslan: Childhood, complexity and risk

Christopher Joseph Jenks, John A. Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This paper addresses the events at Beslan as a crisis point at which the postmodern celebration of difference spills into unbearable chaos. However this chaos turns out to show specific, dynamic or complex, self-organizing structures. Such dynamics, instead of obeying 'normal' ranges exhibit widely different scales of magnitude and intensity. Central to these interactions is the formation, however loose or opportunistic, of identities that also produce others: the formation of micro-ethnicities that state how the 'other' or out-group can be treated, mistreated or 'deconstructed'. At Beslan, this reaches a point of crisis which is both localized and universally challenging: it poses the problem of intolerability to a notion of democratic community and an epistemology premised on, and promising, pluralistic tolerance. The outcome is a realignment of sociology and the sociology of childhood along the axes of a model of human ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-518
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Beslan
  • Complexity
  • Ecology
  • Non-linear causality
  • Risk
  • Sociology of childhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'After Beslan: Childhood, complexity and risk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this