Personal Data

Ulrich Beck (1944-2015), one of the most creative and innovative sociologists the profession has seen, was Professor for Sociology at the Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich (LMU), British Journal of Sociology Visiting Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Professor at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) in Paris. In 2012 Ulrich Beck received an Advanced Investigator Grant for ‘Methodological Cosmopolitanism – In the Laboratory of Climate Change’ from the European Research Council. Beck was the editor of the series ‘Edition Second Modernity’ at Suhrkamp and co-editor of the social-scientific journal ‘Soziale Welt’.

His book ‘Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity’, first published in 1986 was translated into more than 25 languages. The term ‘risk society’ coined in that book established his international reputation extending it also far beyond academic circles. Twenty years later he renewed and extended his diagnostic theory in the monograph ‘World at Risk: In Search of Lost Security’ under the banner of terrorism, climate catastrophies and financial crisis.

The ‘theory of reflexive modernization’ which Ulrich Beck developed contains three complex arguments: the theorem of world risk society, the theorem of forced individualization, and the theorem of multifaceted modernization or cosmopolitization. All three theorems are radicalized forms of a modernization dynamic which at the beginning of the 21st century, when turned against itself, is dissolving First Modernity.

In his scientific works Ulrich Beck engaged, among other things, with the themes of: (World) Risk Society and Manufactured Uncertainties, Individualisation and Social Inequality; Globalism and Globalization, Cosmopolitanism and Cosmopolitization, Methodological Nationalism and Methodological Cosmopolitanism in the Social Sciences.

Ulrich Beck published regularly about current topics in renowned national and international newspapers and magazines.

Curriculum Vitae

1944 Born in Stolp/Pomerania; childhood in Hanover
1961-1962 Foreign exchange student, American Field Service (AFS); High School Diploma in Springfield, Min., USA
1966 Started university, studying Law in Freiburg; transferred to the LMU Munich after one term to study Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology and Political Science; Scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
1972-1979 LMU Munich, Research Fellow at the Research Centre on ‘Social Scientific Perspectives on Occupational Change, Labour Market and Work Conditions’, financed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG)
1974 1974 Dr. Phil. in Sociology at the LMU Munich on ‘Objectivity and Normativity: The Theory-Praxis Debate in Modern German and American Sociology’ (submitted in 1972 at the University of Munich and published by Rowohlt: Reinbek near Hamburg) (summa cum laude)
1979 1979 Habilitation at the LMU Munich on ‘Social Reality as the Product of Social Labor: Foundations for a Subject-Centered Sociology of Labor and Professions’ (submitted in 1978 at the University of Munich, unpublished)
1979-1981 Professor of Sociology at the University of Münster
1980-2014 Co-Editor of the journal ‘Soziale Welt’
1981-1992 Professor of Sociology at the University of Bamberg
1981-1988 Founding Director of the National Research Centre ‘Uses of Social Science’, financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
1989-1990 Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen (KWI, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut in Essen)
1990-1991 Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin)
1992-2014 Professor of Sociology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
1995-1997 Member of the Commission for Future Questions established by the State of Bavaria and the State of Saxony
1995-1997 Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Wales College of Cardiff
1997-2014 Editor of ‘Second Modernity’, book series published by Suhrkamp
1999-2009 Founding Director of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 536) ‘Reflexive Modernization’ at the LMU Munich, financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
2005 Offer of the Chair for Sociology, University Cambridge, as successor to Anthony Giddens
2011 Member of the Ethics Commission of the German Government on the evaluation of nuclear energy and its alternatives
2011-2014 Professor at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris
2013-2014 Principal Investigator of the European Research Council (ERC) project: ‘Methodological Cosmopolitanism – In the Laboratory of Climate Change’

Honorary Doctorates

  • 2013: Sofia University St.-Kliment-Ohridski/Bulgaria
  • 2013: National University of San Martín (UNSAM), Buenos Aires/Argentina
  • 2011: University of Lausanne/Switzerland
  • 2011: Varna Free University/Bulgaria
  • 2010: University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt/Germany
  • 2007: National University for Distant Education (UNED), Madrid/Spain
  • 2006: University of Macerata/Italy
  • 1996: University of Jyväskylä/Finland


  • 2014: Lifetime Achievement Award – For Most Distinguished Contribution to Futures Research (Research Committee on Futures Research, International Sociological Association)
  • 2014: Otto von der Gablentz Prize, Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam
  • 2009: “Mondi Migranti-Carige”, international prize for Migration Studies of the Universities of Milan and Genoa
  • 2006: Prize for outstanding achievement awarded by the Research Institute of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm
  • 2005: Schader-Prize of the Schader-Stiftung for the Humanities, Darmstadt
  • 2004: Prize of the German Sociology Association (DGS)
  • 1999: Cicero-Prize for public speaking
  • 1999: German-British Forum Awards (with Anthony Giddens)
  • 1997: Culture Prize of the City of Munich
  • 1997: Prix spécial Risques – Les Echos – Paris