Ulrich Beck has been one of the foremost sociologists of the last few decades, single-handedly promoting the concept of risk and risk research in contemporary sociology and social theory. Indeed, his world risk society thesis has become widely popular, capturing current concerns about the consequences of modernity, fears about risk and security as a result of globalisation and its implications for the state and social organisation. Much of the discussion generated, however, has been of an abstract conceptual nature and has not always travelled well into fields such as political science, political theory and International Relations. This article introduces Beck to a wider audience while analysing his work and assessing it against recent empirical evidence in relation to the effects of globalisation on individual risk and systemic risk to the state. Copyright © 2007 University of Kent.