The Cultural Theory of risk has been subject to a variety of criticisms. Complexities and ambiguities inherent in Douglas’s group-grid scheme, and the resulting diversity of conceptualizations among cultural theorists, lead Åsa Boholm to believe the theory is fatally opaque.  She also objects to the theory’s embrace of functionalism ,   a controversial mode of analysis that sees the needs of collective entities (in the case of Cultural Theory, the ways of life defined by group-grid), rather than the decisions of individuals about how to pursue their own ends, as the principal causal force in social relations.  Furthermore, both Boholm and van der Linden (2015) note that cultural theory is circular in its logic. Commentators have also critiqued studies that purport to furnish empirical evidence for Cultural Theory, particularly survey studies, which some argue reflect unreliable measures of individual attitudes and in any case explain only a modest amount of the variance in individual perceptions of risk.   Finally, some resist Cultural Theory on political grounds owing to Douglas and Wildavsky’s harsh denunciation of environmentalists in Risk and Culture . 
Determined to counter the prevailing attitudes, Danae and Philip enroll their children in the progressive Hand to Hand School, the only bilingual school in the city in which Jewish and Arab children study together and become immersed in each other’s culture. The couple’s oldest son, Tristan, takes to the new environment, becoming close friends with an Arab youth with whom he communicates in the language appropriate to the neighborhood they happen to be in. His commentary and curious questioning about the family’s new situation provides a sort of guide for how well things are going for them.