By Gerda Reith

ISBN-10: 0203978307

ISBN-13: 9780203978306

ISBN-10: 0415179971

ISBN-13: 9780415179973

This interesting and wide examine, enlivened by way of interviews with British and American gamblers, should be spell binding studying not only for these attracted to the cultural and social implications of playing - researchers in sociology, cultural reports and the background of rules - yet for somebody drawn to how we create that means in an more and more insecure international.

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Extra resources for Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought, Number 22)

Sample text

It is not a case of one ‘growing out’ of the other, as the evolutionists have suggested, for the two were conjoined from the very start, each part of the same outlook. There existed a playful aspect to divination as well as a sacred aspect to THE IDEA OF CHANCE 17 gambling. The latter did not simply emerge, as a secularised version, out of the former, and in any case, the prophetic connotations of gambling have never been completely extinguished, either formally (for example, in the case of fortunetelling with cards), or in the mind of gamblers, whose beliefs will be studied in Chapter 5.

At the same time, the speculative mania extended in more conservative directions, in the creation of insurance and annuities (Hacking 1975, p. 4; see also Douglas 1992, p. 23). Originally intended for the assurances of marine risks, such insurance calculated the chances of a ship coming home against the chances of its being lost at sea. This practice had been around since the fourth millennium BC in what were known as ‘bottomly contracts’—loans to ship owners, the repayment of which was contingent on the safe completion of the voyage—but in the seventeenth century, a form of marine insurance which dealt specifically in risks emerged, one which took account of the probability of losses and gains.

2, p. 59). CHANCE AND DETERMINISM Not having a field of study of its own, some of the most fertile analyses of the development of the notion of chance have come out of the study of probability, whose development, in Hacking’s evocative phrase, engendered the ‘taming of chance’ (Hacking 1990). The creation of an ‘empire of chance’ (Gigerenzer et al. 1989) and the ambivalent Enlightenment attitude towards the ‘shadows of chance’ (Kavanagh 1993) have provided the subject matter for a series of studies on the place of the aleatory in human consciousness (Daston 1988).

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Age of Chance: Gambling in Western Culture (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought, Number 22) by Gerda Reith


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