Who is he? Professor of sociology at the University of Munich and now Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE), Beck is one of a band of elite academics being drawn to the LSE under Tony Giddens. He was 56 last month.
How did he get here?
Beck's early work on risk and the environment - Risk Society was a best-seller on its publication in 1985 - was thrown into relief by the events of the late '80s and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. A German, he is well placed to chart the ideological battle around the construction of modern societies. He's also an informal adviser to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.
What he's written Risk Society (1985)
The Reinvention of Politics (1996)
Democracy Without Enemies (1998)
What they say about him According to Giddens, Beck is 'sophisticated'; he accurately reveals how 'globalisation is entering the intimacies of personal life ... we are compelled to become activists in living our lives'.
'There are (now) no historical models for the conduct of life. Inherited recipes and role stereotypes fail to function.'
Beck's your man for analysis on how individuals have to reinvent themselves, rewrite and rethink their biographies.