RN22 – Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty –

Sessions at ESA Conference in Torino, Italy August 2013

 

SESSIONS

11:00 – 12:30 / Thursday 29 / CLE H5

a01RN22 / Risk, Crime and Policing

Chair: Efim Fidrya (Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University)

Jens Hälterlein (University of Potsdam), Norma Möllers (Potsdam University), Smart CCTV and the

Maximum Security Society – Political Visions and Social Boundaries

Elisa Pieri (University of Manchester), Suspicion and Riskiness: Policing in the Aftermath of the

Manchester Riots

Ana Maria Lopez Narbona (University of Malaga. Spain), Immigration and Crime in Spain, Is There a

Link? The Risk for Immigrants of Being Labelled as Criminals in Crisis Times.

Maria Grazia Galantino (Sapienza University of Rome), Crime and Securitization in Rome

 

11:00 – 12:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzina Einaudi Aula 2

b01RN22 / Risk, Time and Social Theory

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

Katarina Giritli-Nygren (Mid Sweden University), Siv Fahlgren (Mid Sweden University), Re-Assembling ’The Normal’ in Neo-Liberal Times – Tracing (New) Closures of ‘Normality’ in the Age of Risk

Adam Burgess (University of Kent), Risk and Modernity Revisited

Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam), Habitus and Trust – From an Empirical Problem to a

Theoretical Framework of Constrained Choice

 

14:00 – 15:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

a02RN22 / Risk, Vulnerability and the Pregnant Body

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Magdalena Gajewska (University of Gdansk), Piotr Pawliszak (University of Gdansk), Implicit and

Reflective Meanings of Female Body and Risks Occurring in the Obstetrical and Perinatal Field in Poland

Raphaël P Hammer (University of Health Sciences), Sophie Inglin-Stoppini (University of Health

Sciences), Pregnant Women’s Risk Perceptions of Maternal Drinking and Smoking

Mário J. D. S. Santos (ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon), “At Home I Knew They Wouldn’t Judge Me”: Trust and Risk Perceptions When Choosing a Home-Birth

 

14:00 – 15:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 34

b02RN22 / Risk: Representations, Framing and Media

Chair: Adam Burgess (University of Kent)

Andreas Gofas (The University of Sheffield), Mapping Terrorism Risk Perceptions in Europe

Bill Durodie (Royal Roads University, Victoria), Media Representations of the 2011 England Riots

Giuseppe Tipaldo (University of Turin), Astrid Pizzo (University of Turin), Selena Agnella (University of Turin), When Science Trembles. Science, Politics, Media and Society in the Case of the Italian Scientists Conviction for the Earthquake in L’Aquila

Efim S. Fidrya (Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University), Health Risks and their Coverage in the Printed Media and the Specialized Journals in Modern Russia

 

16:00 – 17:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 34

a03RN22 / Risk, Professional Decisions and Commucation

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Jeremy Dixon (The University of Bath), Mentally Disordered Offenders’ Perspectives of the Purpose of Risk Management Procedures in the Community

Gemma Mitchell (University of Leicester), “Just Do It”: How Do Experts Move beyond Rules and Guidance When Making ‘Risky’ Decisions?

Jonny Bergman (Mid Sweden University), Erika Wall (Mid Sweden University), A Situational Perspective on Risk Communication – Personnel Employed by the Swedish Migration Board Communicating Risk

 

16:00 – 17:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

b03RN22 / Responding to Disasters and Crises amidst Uncertainty

Chair: Jörgen Sparf (Mid-Sweden University)

Piotr Matczak (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), Vera-Karin Brazova (Charles University, Prague), How Is Risk Translated into Action? The Notions of Crisis in Risk Management.

Atte Oksanen (Finnish Youth Research Network), Emma Holkeri (University of Turku), Pekka Rasanen (University of Turku), School’s Out Forever? Analysing Mass Violence Threats Investigated by the Police

Aurélie Roussary (IRSTEA), Denis Salles (UR ADBX), Mice, Oysters and Public Health: A Precautionary European Standard in the Event of Uncertainty

Robin Karlsson (Mid Sweden University), Olof Oscarsson (Mid Sweden University), Situational Awareness in Crisis Management – Creating Meaning in Unsafe Situation.

 

18:00 – 19:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

a04RN22 / Perceiving Risk 1: Influence of Structure and Biographies

Chair: Aiste Balzekiene (Kaunas University of Technology)

Alex Tham (Princeton University) Risk Uncertainty and Action

Andrea Hense (Bielefeld University) Socio-Structural Determinants of Self-Perceived Job and Income Risks

Anna Olofsson (Mid Sweden University), Susanna Öhman (Mid Sweden University), Understandings of Risk: an intersectional analysis 

 

18:00 – 19:30 / Thursday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

b04RN22 / Risk, Data and Governance

Chair: Christian Bröer (University of Amsterdam)

Paolo Crivellari (University of Toulouse3), A Risk-Generator State? The Construction of the Risk Related to Base Station Transmitters for Mobile Phones in Italy

Nathaniel O’Grady (Durham University), Incalculable but not Unimaginable: Researching the Aesthetics of Everyday Rsk in UK Fire and Rescue Service Exercise Planning

Georgios Kolliarakis (University of Frankfurt), Coping with Uncertainty: High-Tech Fetishism and the Politics of European Civil Security Research 

Turf Böcker Jakobsen (The Danish National Centre for Social Research), Christian Poppe, SIFO, Oslo), Sharon Collard (University of Bristol), Risk Conception and Risk Management in the Age of Financialisation

 

11:00 – 12:30 / Friday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

a05RN22 / Perceiving Risk 2: Exploring Social Dynamics

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

Bert de Graaf (University of Amsterdam), Christian Bröer (University of Amsterdam) ‘Should I Be Worried?’ – Citizens Perceptions of Mobile Phone Technology Health Risks over Time

Mitsutoshi Horii (Chaucer College, Canterbury) A ‘Ritual’ against Health Risks?: Surgical Mask Wearing in Japan

Emília R. Araújo (University of Minho), Time, Temporality and Technology: Rethink the Implications of a Different Relationship between Natural and Social Rythms

 

11:00 – 12:30 / Friday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 34

b05RN22 / Dynamics of Risk Governance, Polycentric Regimes

Chair: Adam Burgess (University of Kent)

Dainius Genys (Vytautas Magnus University), The Formation of Lithuanian Energy Security Discource: The Role of Politicians, Scientists and Media

Aymeric Luneau (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), The Construction of Collective Attention to Environmental Health Risks through Social Conflicts

Mikael Linnell (Mid Sweden University), The Constitution and Reconstitution of Risk in Crisis Preparedness and Response Training

Mara A Yerkes (The University of Queensland), Joan Corrie (The University of Queensland),  
Judith Raven (Erasmus University) Collective Bargaining: An Alternative to Social Risk Potection?

 

14:00 – 15:30 / Friday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 34

a06RN22 / Sense-making of Risks: Groups and Social Dynamics

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

Barbara Sena (University of S. Tommaso D’Aquino), From the Sociology of Risk to the Sociology of Responsibility. Interpretations, Links, Fields of Application

Katarzyna Abramczuk (University of Warsaw), The Role of Risk in Repeated Information Cascades

 

14:00 – 15:30 / Friday 29 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

b06RN22 / The Social, Spatial and Physical Environments of Risk Perception

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Sari Ung-Lanki (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland), Cozy Smoke? The Role of Attitudes and Knowledge in Public Perception of Wood Smoke as an Environmental Health Risk

Aistė Balžekienė (Kaunas University of Technology), Comparative Analysis of Environmental and Technological Risk Perceptions: Factors and Contexts

Sven Opitz (Hamburg University), Spatializing Global Risk: Regulating Pandemic Circulation

 

16:00 – 17:30 / Friday 30 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 34

a07RN22 / Health Risks: Processes of Definition and Categorisation

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Frederic Vandermoere (University of Antwerp), Josephine Foubert (Ghent University), Psychosocial Health of Residents Exposed to Urban Groundwater Contamination

Elin Montelius (Mid Sweden University), Natural, Homemade and Real – Undoing Risk while Doing Food

 

16:00 – 17:30 / Friday 30 / Palazzo Nuovo Aula 35

b07RN22 / Governing Nuclear Energy Production

Chair: Paolo Crivellari (University of Toulouse)

Davide Borrelli (University of Salento), Mihaela Gavrila (Sapienza University, Rome), Sarah Siciliano

(University of Salento), Nuclear Issue, Risk and Design of “Confiscation of Democracy”. The Italian Case

Catharina Landström (University of East Anglia), Anne Bergmans (University of Antwerp), Is Long-Term Nuclear Waste Repository Governance in Need of a Plan?

Marja Ylönen (University of Jyväskylä), Signaled and Silenced Aspects of Nuclear Safety

Peter Simmons (University of East Anglia), Anne Bergmans (University of Antwerp), Mark Elam (University of Gothenburg), Göran Sundsqvist (University of Oslo), Expert and Lay Constructions of Repository Monitoring in the Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste

 

16:00 – 17:30 / Saturday 31 / CLE LL6

a08RN22 / Risk and Processes of Responsibilising

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Elise Mieulet (Aix-Marseille University), Cécilia Claeys (Aix-Marseille University), Private Versus Public Responsibility within Health Risk Management A Case Study: The Difficult Implementation of New Policies Preventing Dengue Fever Epidemics in Martinique and French Guyana

Maria Caiata Zufferey (University of Geneva), The Job of Being at Risk. A Qualitative Study on Womens Managing Genetic Risk of Cancer in Everyday Life

Tabea Eißing (Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg), Self-Care and Self-Regulation in Managing Genetic Risk.

 

ABSTRACTS

a01RN22 – Risk, Crime and Policing

Chair: Efim Fidrya (Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University)

Smart CCTV and the Maximum Security Society – Political Visions and Social Boundaries

Jens Hälterlein, University of Potsdam | [email protected]

Norma Möllers, Potsdam University | [email protected]

We would like to address risk governance in crime control by illustrating the development and implementation of so called “smart” CCTV systems in Germany. These video surveillance systems are expected to automatically detect deviant behavior by using software algorithms. Since this technology is not based on the psychological or criminological analysis of deviant subjects, but on the analysis of situation and space classified as dangerous, it comes with an expansion of risk perception: everyone who is monitored by these systems is a potential risk. Both, advocates and critics of this technique hence draw a picture of new powers of control, that stretch from terrorism and ordinary crime to mass events. This vision of a maximum security society yet faces technological problems (how can indexical behavior be translated into software algorithms?), legal restrictions (e.g. data protection guidelines) and the often divergent interests of prospective users (police, public transport, private enterprises). Drawing from a broad empirical study we want to show, that the development of smart CCTV is on the one hand part of a new rational of risk governance in crime control since it comes with a recoding of risk and security. On the other hand its practical implications correlate with a multitude of social factors.

 

Crime and Securitization in Rome

Maria Grazia Galantino, Sapienza University of Rome | [email protected]

Growing fears and demands for security in contemporary cities mirror the emergence of new risks and uncertainties in different realms of social life. Drawing from social science literature on risk and securitization, the paper examines how risks gain public attention and become threats to security, influencing the opinion climate in which policies and actions to address them are legitimised. The public discourse on crime in the city of Rome well illustrates this process. Defined as “the safest city in Europe” in early 2007, Rome was portrayed as “the capital of fear” by the end of the next year. Indeed, crime and security became the major issue at stake in the 2008 campaign for municipal election and the linchpin of the new centre-right administration. Through content analysis of newspaper articles, the paper examines how the meaning of risk and security changed over time according to the role and the visibility of different policy actors in the public scene. It also reveals how the prevailing definition of the situation can result in security measures that become institutionalized and taken for granted in the public discourse.

 

Immigration and Crime in Spain, Is There a Link? The Risk for Immigrants of Being Labelled as Criminals in Crisis Times.

Ana Maria Lopez Narbona, University of Malaga. Spain | [email protected]

Immigration and crime in Spain: Exploring the risk of immigrants being labelled as criminals in crisis times. Considerations around managing risk and uncertainty are increasingly relevant to studying linkages between immigration, crime and the governance of migration. Immigrants have no special propensity for crime and deviance and do not threaten the labor market (as a part of the market system as a social construction, Polanyi), yet they are viewed as being intrinsically risky because of their displaced status, the dualization of the labor market, the growth of precarious employment, the dismantling of public assistance programs, the risis of the ghetto as instrument of control of a stigmatized population, and because of a more engrained distrust that becomes the framework for public concerns over immigrantion. These are all “socially construed” motivations, fears, risks and uncertainties. This paper explores the underlying mechanisms (and motivations) behind these socially constructed motivations. Cultural theories of risk are applied in considering certain marginalized groups and how they are identified as posing risks to the mainstream community, acting as repositories for fears not simply about certain ‘risks’ but about the breakdown of social order and the need to maintain social boundaries, hierarchies and divisions (Douglas). Risk comes into existence when the hazards which are now decided and consequently produced by society undermine and/or cancel the established safety systems of the welfare state’s existing risk calculations (Beck). The paper considers possibilities for successfully confronting stereotypes such as “criminal immigrant” and the related notions that immigration disorganizes communities and increases crime (or, the threatens that immigrants pose on the labor market, Polavieja).

Suspicion and Riskiness: Policing in the Aftermath of the Manchester Riots

Elisa Pieri, University of Manchester | [email protected]

This paper critically discusses some of the emergent policing practices adopted in the aftermath of the recent Manchester Riots, and aims to problematise the specific constructions of riskiness underpinning them. As urban unrest spread from London to other UK cities in the Summer of 2011, the paper examines the emergent investigative measures used to identify and apprehend suspects through the ‘Shop a Looter’ campaign launched by Greater Manchester Police. It also focuses on the  proactive policing put in place to prevent (further) crime and disorder. The paper looks at the police’s own use of social media, and at the increased reliance on a set of technologies, databases and networked analytics, from CCTV to forensic DNA technologies and the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system that was used to deploy real time urban exclusion zones. This overview highlights some of the key complexities and ambiguities generated by the integration of such technologies and practices, and by the very constructions of suspicion and riskiness operationalised within them. Finally, this paper considers the implications of these emergent policing practices in relation to issues of legitimacy. It critically reflects on the image management role performed by these emergent policing practices for the police, and on the mobilisation of a discourse of responsible citizenry and moral disdain towards disorder, which resulted in the enrolment of certain publics in active surveillance and intelligence sharing with the police.

 

b01RN22 – Risk, Time and Social Theory

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

Re-Assembling ’The Normal’ in Neo-Liberal Times – Tracing (New) Closures of ‘Normality’ in the Age of Risk

Katarina Giritli-Nygren, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

Siv Fahlgren, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

The meaning of ’the normal’ tends to slide from the valued ideal, to the ordinary (or statistically normal), which is constituted as the opposite of deficiency, deviation or social problem. Between these poles are limitless possible shifts in meaning. The ordinary shifts easily from something neutral (common, perhaps even dull), to something desirable or ideal when it is applied in social situations. Thus the normalization processes are neither innocent nor value free. The notion of “being at risk” is central to the doing of normality in contemporary society. By formulating or creating hazards in a community, ‘the normal’ becomes re-assembled as not being “at risk”, an assemblage that is becoming narrower and more difficult to uphold. By means of the notion of risk, power reaches all aspects of life through subjective internalization and normalization, but also draws the boundaries between those belonging and needs to be safeguarded against risk, and those whose life is expendable. We argue that who becomes categorized as being “at risk” can tell us a great deal about who qualify as a ”normal” citizen, and how this intersect with gender, class, age, and race/ethnicity. Drawing on policy related documents concerning health, unemployment, education and integration our aim of this paper is to explore the doings of “risk” and its joint processes of normalization in terms of gender, ethnicity, age/generation and class-based inequality and discrimination as well as inclusions and privileges within the context of the Swedish welfare state.

 

Risk and Modernity Revisited

Adam Burgess, University of Kent | [email protected]

Central to how it became of interest to sociology was the notion of risk as a distinctively modern idea that was absent prior to modernity; even the ancients lacked a sense of risk, interpreting uncertainty and misfortune fatalistically. An associated idea in the writing of Beck and Giddens was of risk as an amoral notion, helping explain its resonance in a late modern world where explicitly moral terms of reference have decreasing impact. Yet these notions have not been developed and even been called into question in recent work uncomfortable with the historical specificity of the idea of risk. This paper will firstly restate the relevance and interest of historical perspectives on risk, drawing upon recent research that better draws out the transition in outlooks during the early modern period, in particular. Secondly, the paper will suggest a research focus upon risk as a form of ‘demoralised’ discourse, drawing upon original research on policy discussion around issues such as pornography and alcohol consumption. The intention is to further reclaim risk as a social rather than technical notion and suggest new and fruitful avenues for future social science research in the field.

 

Habitus and Trust – From an Empirical Problem to a Theoretical Framework of Constrained Choice

Patrick Brown, University of Amsterdam | [email protected]

This paper starts with a research conundrum – people with diagnoses of psychosis who refer to being ‘too trusting’ or who say that they do not trust anyone at all. While theories from psychiatry offer neat explanations, these do not get us very far sociologically. Indeed one can argue that many people possess greater or lesser tendencies to trust and that we need more sociological theory to help us understand the influence of enduring contexts and fateful moments on such dispositions. This brings us to the concept of habitus which is posed as one central basis for considering dispositions towards trusting. The paper visits existing work in this area such as that of Misztal, Scambler and Britten, Möllering and others – synthesising this and moreover denoting the multiple ways in which the ‘choice’ to trust is highly constrained by institutional and interaction norms, socio-biographies, related vulnerabilities and further factors. A deeper knowledge of the ways in which tendencies towards trusting (or not trusting) are inculcated enables in turn a greater sensitivity within analyses to the influence of power and its relation to agency within social interactions and relations.

 

a02RN22 – Risk, Vulnerability and the Pregnant Body

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

“At Home I Knew They Wouldn’t Judge Me”: Trust and Risk Perceptions When Choosing a Home-Birth

Mário J. D. S. Santos, ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon | [email protected]

Choosing a home-birth in Portugal is of sociological interest because of the complexity of relations established between knowledge, power and risk perceptions that are put into play. In fact, more than being “just” pregnant, a woman is socially responsible for the formation of the fetus, a new citizen, promoting risk perceptions that influence the pregnant choices, pushing them towards the bio-medical model. Other models oppose to bio-medicine and aim to conquer authority through its natural and holistic values, where home-birth can be included. Even so, people that choose a home-birth still have to deal with the social and medical risks associated to pregnancy and birth. But how are those risks configured and how much do they influence the options of a home-birth? To answer this, I present here some particular results of a wider qualitative study, conducted in 2012, on the experience of home-births, in Portugal. Analyzing the results, it was possible to see that several motives beneath the option of a home-birth arose from the description of the hospital model of birth. The subjectivity of risk perceptions is very clear, with medical risks and social risks assuming multiple and sometimes opposite shapes, like in the hospital: medically assumed as the less risky place to give birth, while here is assumed as the most risky place. Moral risk, or the pressure and criticism that health professionals and others tend to make, also emerged has an important factor that has great influence over the options and the relationships established with the medical system of pregnancy surveillance.Nevertheless, childbirth is a social event and the options that surround it can’t avoid social and medical expectations.

 

Implicit and Reflective Meanings of Female Body and Risks Occurring in the Obstetrical and Perinatal Field in Poland

Magdalena Gajewska, University of Gdansk | [email protected]

Piotr Pawliszak, University of Gdansk | [email protected]

In the paper we analyze different organizational contexts in the field of perinatal care in Poland influencing perception and managements of risks connected with pregnancy and delivery. The risks generated by obstetric medicine are currently being made public by new collective agents employing formerly marginalized common knowledge and practice along with its unconventional forms. Interaction between conventional and unconventional epistemic communities gives rise to changes in the lifeworld, specialized medical subsystem of Polish society and individual cognitive practices. In the area of obstetric medicine we can encounter hybrid forms of practices, such as natural childbirth, alleviation of labour pains through immersion in water combining some elements of institutionalized, scientific knowledge with unconventional. Through analyzing narratives and meaningful actions aimed at either maintaining or altering the existing knowledge paradigms and practices, we try to reveal and explained with cultural theory (Douglas, Thompson, Wildavsky) how they are moderated by structured socio-cultural environments in which they take place, as well as cultural contexts to which they refer. Moreover, we also concentrate on the conflicts and crises that arise between various entities as well as on both limitations and facilitations they encounter from the sociocultural structure of perinatal social field and from the social worlds functioning within its frames.

 

Pregnant Women’s Risk Perceptions of Maternal Drinking and Smoking

Raphaël P Hammer, University of Health Sciences | [email protected]

Sophie Inglin-Stoppini, University of Health Sciences | [email protected]

In Switzerland, as in other countries, official recommendations regarding alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy involve a zero tolerance policy. However, prevalence studies indicate that the abstinence principle is not always followed by pregnant women. Drawing on qualitative data, this communication examines to what extent pregnant women perceive risks related to maternal smoking and drinking as similar or distinct risks. Data come from 50 semi-structured interviews with Swiss women, aged between 24 and 41 years. All participants had a normal pregnancy. Thematic analysis was performed on interview extracts that were related to knowledge, behaviours and attitudes regarding alcohol and tobacco consumption. Perception of risk has been addressed through three main themes: i) women’s accounts towards official recommendations; ii) the contextualisation of risk in daily life; and iii) the moral issues surrounding both risks. The main finding of this study is that maternal smoking and drinking are perceived as distinct risks, bearing contrasting meanings. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy was not necessarily considered to be a risky behaviour, since moderate drinking was seen as more acceptable and less risky than smoking. In particular, the moralisation of tobacco use was much more salient than alcohol use. Whereas maternal smoking was readily framed in terms of failing to control oneself or to act in the foetus’ interest, “drinking once in a while” was seen in accordance with the imperatives of self-surveillance. More broadly, differences in social climate regarding alcohol and tobacco consumption might account to some extent for women’s contrasting perceptions.

 

b02RN22 – Risk: Representations, Framing and Media

Chair: Adam Burgess (University of Kent)

Mapping Terrorism Risk Perceptions in Europe

Andreas Gofas, The University of Sheffield | [email protected]

Since the events of 9/11, terrorism has been the subject of intense political dialogue and public scrutiny. Through well publicized discussions about its constitution and consequences, terrorism has been framed in the prevailing public discourse as an all pervasive societal threat. In turn, the official response to this threat has created a pervasive atmosphere of anxiety where political fear bleeds into the fabric of daily life. At the same time, one of the liveliest areas of theoretical debate in social and political analysis is that addressing the phenomenon of risk and the role it plays in contemporary life. Surprisingly enough, there has been little empirical research, hitherto, of the ways in which the risk of terrorism, as the pre-eminent security preoccupation of western states, is perceived by the public. Although there are some studies on the USA, this gap is all the more remarkable when it comes to Europe. This paper aims to address this imbalance in a theoretically and methodologically progressive way. Theoretically, it aspires to develop an integrative framework for the analysis of terrorist risk perception that brings together the key insights of disparate risk analysis research communities by introducing four context levels of analysis that co-shape terrorist risk perception. At the level of empirical innovations, the project is purposively designed to fill the above gap over the lack of a pan-European study on the determinants of the perceived risk of terrorism.

 

Media Representations of the 2011 England Riots

Bill Durodie, Royal Roads University, Victoria | [email protected]

This paper will explore how the ‘rioting’ that broke out across various parts of England for one week in the summer of 2011 have been interpreted by different parties according to pre-assumed frameworks. One dominant strand presented – particularly by the international media – derived from the images of a burning warehouse in South London. The original version of the interim report of the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, established by the British government to investigate and advise on the matter, also made use of images of fire, burnt-out cars and police in riot gear on almost every page. Notably, the version currently available on their web-site now omits all of these photographs. Equally, the final report issued by the same group presents a view of happy communities getting together with brooms to clean-up after the events. Using footage derived from the viewing of the hundreds of hours of footage of these incidents made available on YouTube, this paper will show how both of these representations are – at best – partial constructs that meet the requirements of a self-serving narrative by the authorities concerned. The events themselves were more akin to looting than rioting, with little – if any – sign of political motivation or purposeful and collective organisation behind them. Fires did occur, but these were atypical. Equally, the police in general were most notable by their absence – a fact well-documented elsewhere in the media. Rather than a clash of opposing forces challenging the authority of the state in relation to race, poverty or police brutality, this session will explore the possibility that we are faced with the impasse between two equally impotent and.

 

When Science Trembles. Science, Politics, Media and Society in the Case of the Italian Scientists Conviction for the Earthquake in L’Aquila

Giuseppe Tipaldo, University of Torino | [email protected]

Astrid Pizzo, University of Torino | [email protected]

Selena Agnella, University of Torino | [email protected]

On 22 October 2012 the court of L’Aquila (Italy) sentenced to six years in prison six Italian scientists, members of the “Commissione Grandi Rischi” (a governmental committee on major hazards prevention), founding them guilty of multiple manslaughter for having falsely reassured citizens five days before the devastating earthquake of 2009, which claimed more than 300 lives. The reactions to the sentence are essentially of two types: the media framed the issue as an attack on science liberty, while others, such as the prestigious journal Nature (2012, 490: 446), found the verdict “perverse” and the sentence “ludicrous”, worried about the serious implications “about the chilling effect on (scientists’) ability to serve in public risk assessments”. This paper, part of a wider longitudinal study on science communication practices by Italian researchers initiated in 2012 by the University of Turin (ISAAC – Italian Scientists multi-technique Auditing and Analysis on science Communication), will take the story of L’Aquila as a “revelatory” case study (Yin 2003), uncovering the complex communicative interactions that today increasingly bind Science, Politics, Media and Society in risk assessment and uncertainty management. Moving from an approach that shows quite a few points in common with the Sociology of Knowledge, and in particular with the concepts of situated actions, motives and questions proposed by Wright Mills in an essay become a classic (Wright Mills 1940), the paper proposes and discusses a theoretical model of interaction between the components mentioned above, the validity of which is tested drawing on a wide basis of documents, including data from a CAWI survey on the Italian scientific community.

 

Health Risks and their Coverage in the Printed Media and the Specialized Journals in Modern Russia

Efim S. Fidrya, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University | [email protected]

This paper provides an analysis of relations between probabilities of morbidity and mortality in Russia and their coverage in Russian printed media and scholarly medical journals during 2004-2010. The statistical data on the overall number of morbidity and mortality cases classified in accordance with ICD-10 were given and statistical health probabilities were calculated. Then the figures of diseases coverage in the printed mass media and the specialized medical media for the same blocks of diseases over the period between 2004 and 2010 were acquired. Finally, the statistical methods were implemented in order to examine the relations between mortality and morbidity probabilities and their media coverage. The results show a strong correlation between the death probabilities and the coverage of the diseases in the specialized media; however no significant connection with factual statistics was discovered for the mass media. Resume: 1) mass media are mostly interested not only in rare fatal events, but in risks which has ‘social’ component (i.e. related to social interaction; keeping on social norms; deviations etc.); 2) specialized media most sensitively react on the dynamics of the fatal health risks catching changes in the death counts by different causes; 3) .mass media and specialized media construct health risks in their own ways probably depending on their place in the structure of social relations and logics which set the specific ways of evaluating health risks and direct their attention to the most ‘risky’ events which are totally differ in different kinds of media.

 

a03RN22 – Risk, Professional Decisions and Commucation

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Mentally Disordered Offenders’ Perspectives of the Purpose of Risk Management Procedures in the Community

Jeremy Dixon, The University of Bath | [email protected]

Mentally disordered offenders subject to section 37/41 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (England and Wales) are subject to conditions and restrictions operated by the Secretary of State. The legal basis for such an order is that it is ‘necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm’ and mental health services are tasked with identifying, monitoring and minimising such risks to the public. Relatively little has been written about the way in which this group of offenders understands and makes sense of the supervision process. This paper draws on original research with mentally disordered offenders subject to section 37/41 and uses theories of social control to examine their perceptions of risk management. The order was seen by some as a means of identifying them as mentally disordered in order that medical support could be provided. Other users believed that the order worked to help them internalise acceptable standards of behaviour. A final group saw the order as a means of labelling their behaviour in a manner which stigmatised them. A number of service users showed awareness that the order acted to limit the actions of professionals and in these cases service users were able to utilise the order as means to minimising the risks of receiving poor aftercare services.

 

A Situational Perspective on Risk Communication – Personnel Employed by the Swedish Migration Board Communicating Risk

Jonny Bergman, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

Erika Wall, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

In this paper we engage with the question of how personnel employed by the Swedish Migration Board make sense of their work for the well-being and welfare for asylum seekers and how this understanding relates to how risk is communicated. From a perspective of relational communication of risk it is important to acknowledge asylum seekers as well as personnel employed by the Migration Board as active participants in the understanding and communication of risk. The study presented in this paper relates to research focusing on how asylum seekers in Sweden manage their situation and a project looking at the communication of fire safety between the Swedish Migration Board and asylum seekers. The point of departure on research discussed in this paper is that although the situation for asylum seekers is the most pressing, the situation for the personnel employed by the Migration Board working with issues of wellbeing and welfare for asylum seekers, are also socially, politically and emotionally circumscribed. In that way understanding how work for the well-being and welfare for asylum seekers, in this case on risk communication and fire safety, depends on also recognizing how personnel employed by the Migration Board grapple with their work situation.

 

“Just Do It”: How Do Experts Move beyond Rules and Guidance When Making ‘Risky’ Decisions?

Gemma Mitchell, University of Leicester | [email protected]

‘Just do it’ is a quote from a review of child protection in England by Lord Laming in 2009. This review followed the death of Peter Connelly in August 2007 who was known to children’s services in Haringey. In the most recent review of child protection services in England, Professor Eileen Munro (2010; 2011a; 2011b) points out that experts do not intend to make mistakes, and argues that a systems approach should be taken in order to provide an environment which supports professionals to make decisions that are as likely as possible to protect children. Indeed, Munro goes further, and defines experts as those who are able to go beyond official rules and guidance when making decisions involving risk and uncertainty. These official documents are in the process of being dramatically cut as per the report’s recommendations. However, this development has been contested and some local authorities have expressed concern regarding the apparent increased flexibility of child protection guidance. This paper analyses three examples of current child protection policy documents and also draws on interviews with this group of experts to discuss how they ‘just do it’ rather than relying on official rules and guidance. It also questions why the increased acknowledgement of uncertainty from policy makers in practice has not been met with widespread approval from those working with children and families.

 

b03RN22 – Responding to Disasters and Crises amidst Uncertainty

Chair: Jörgen Sparf (Mid-Sweden University)

School’s Out Forever? Analysing Mass Violence Threats Investigated by the Police

Atte Oksanen, Finnish Youth Research Network | [email protected]

Emma Holkeri, University of Turku | [email protected]

Pekka Rasanen, University of Turku | [email protected]

The notorious school shooting tragedies in Finland (2007 and 2008) had direct impact on school anti-violence policy. Since pupils tried to attract public attention by making threats of new school massacres, a zero tolerance policy was implemented. The Finnish National Board of Education recommended schools to report every threat directly to the police. In the spring of 2011, the Finnish police stated that there have been over 500 threats reported to Finnish police. In this paper, we examine school massacre threats as a societal risk factor. Our data is drawn from the school massacre threats investigated by the Finnish police during 2010 (n=40). Within one year over 100 cases were reported to police, but only 40 of these led to criminal investigation. The perpetrators were approximately 16-year-olds. Although the threats were mostly made by students, some were anonymous and some were made by adult males. Only three cases involving a female suspect were investigated. In addition, the ICTs were used in a half of the cases. School shooting threats are a complex phenomenon, which involve different levels of seriousness. Most of the threats are merely connected with impulsive and delinquent behaviour. Few cases could be considered properly calculated and serious. We argue that school massacre threats represent an example of an unintended consequence in risk governance. We also discuss how the threats reflect with the general understanding of risk in the present society, particularly in Finland, which is often seen as one of the most secure countries in the world.

 

Mice, Oysters and Public Health: A Precautionary European Standard in the Event of Uncertainty

Aurélie Roussary, IRSTEA | [email protected]

Denis Salles, UR ADBX | [email protected]

This communication questions the production and the renegotiation of the social, technical and organizational devices of risk and uncertainties management between the local, national and European levels. It leans on a retrospective analysis of the trajectory and trials of a European standard of public health. The mouse bioassay was the European standard to evaluate the sanitary quality of shells. But in 2005, waters of the Bay of Arcachon in the southwest of France are contaminated by a mysterious toxic agent. Bioassays are positive; nevertheless no known toxin is detected in waters. According to the legal framework and in the name of the precautionary principle, shellfish growing areas are the object of an administrative ban on the marketing of shells. Until 2009, these closures caused locally deep challenges of oyster professionals widely relieved by elected representatives and local populations. These events knew an important national and European media echo, which changed into real institutional crisis. The public controversy ended in 2010, with the substitution of the mouse bioassay method by a chemical analysis as European reference for any statutory decision. We show that the political decision to substitute a precautionary standard by a sociotechnical device of management-vigilance was built by various dynamics. They related to unpredictable events (sanitary crises, unknown toxic agents), to the evolution of scientific knowledge, to collective mobilizations (corporatist, public controversies) and to the statutory, commercial, ethical multi-levels orders.

 

How Is Risk Translated into Action? The Notions of Crisis in Risk Management.

Piotr Matczak, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań | [email protected]

Vera-Karin Brazova, Charles University, Prague | [email protected]

With the growing role of the state in risk management over the last 100 years, the public administration possesses currently the dominant role. The state’s coordination and the use of resources are regulated by legislation and administrative conduct. In this respect the notion of crisis plays a decisive role as it triggers a set of actions. Not only is the definition of a crisis based on the risks perceived – and thereby can change when new risks occur, but also different crisis situations facilitate certain attributions of organizational responsibility for a crisis (Coombs 1995). There is no uniform definition of a crisis. Moreover, in different countries the notion of a crisis tends to be defined and understood differently. In the paper, the Czech, Slovak and Polish cases are presented in the wider European perspective. In Poland, a serious discussion concerning the definition of crisis in the law on crisis management occurred as the Constitutional Court questioned the definition of “crisis” in the Crisis Management Act. The definition was based on the concept of ” breaking or significant impairment of social ties”, which was considered by the Court as imprecise and ambiguous. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, on the other hand, despite the common history, the organizational evolution led to different definitions of crisis and thus to different operational procedures in dealing with them. The implications of the definition of crisis for the crisis management operations are discussed in the paper.

 

Situational Awareness in Crisis Management – Creating Meaning in Unsafe Situation

Robin Karlsson, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

Olof Oscarsson, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

This study focus on how crisis organizations create and use situational awareness during major accidents and crisis. It purpose is to contribute with knowledge about how individuals understand the term situational awareness, what need it satisfies and how they establish situational awareness from an individual sensemaking perspective, derived from Karl E. Weick’s theory. Our object of study is staffs- and management personnel from police and fire department within Östersund. We have made a qualitative study based on interviews with individuals possessing personal experiences of our study area and also observations during a practice for collaboration within and between organizations. It is concluded that situational awareness is an ongoing process when relevant information is collected for what has happened, happens and will happen. Furthermore, there is a need for situational awareness to make decisions and prioritize resources. The sensemaking process taking place in the creation of situational awareness is associated with seven elements for sensemaking. All elements should be viewed from a holistic approach, since all elements influence each other. However, this study conclude that during the sensemaking process for creation of situational awareness there’s two elements that have more significance. Those elements are retrospective and selected signals and are based on experience and information.

 

a04RN22 – Perceiving Risk 1: Influence of Structures and Biographies

Chair: Aiste Balzekiene (University of Technology)

Socio-Structural Determinants of Self-Perceived Job and Income Risks

Andrea Hense, Bielefeld University | [email protected]

Economic crises generate distributional conflicts that change the way how economic resources and risks are distributed through employment relationships in modern welfare states. Theoretical debates about precarity, flexible labor markets, and deregulation of welfare states demonstrate the relevance of this issue. Moreover, empirical findings show, that employees are increasingly concerned about job and income insecurities, and that this affects their well-being and social relationships. Nevertheless, a theory-guided analytical framework is missing that explains why certain groups of employees are more likely to perceive higher risks than others. While psychological theories help to understand the cognitive part of this mechanism, the sociological part of this explanation and the development of a theory guided analysis of social-structural impacts are largely neglected. Thus, I will present an analytical framework that combines Lindenberg’s social production function theory with Bourdieu’s field theory. On the one hand, self-perceived risks are explained with actual restrictions in resources (capital) that are able to produce or substitute future income. On the other hand, self-perceived risks are explained with former experiences that influence patterns of perception. The derived hypotheses are tested empirically using panel data from 1984-2011. It can be shown that decreasing credentials, job status, and household income as well as fixed-term contracts increase self perceived job and income risks. Moreover, people who experienced unemployment in the household and working-class children perceive higher risks, while cohorts who entered into a flexible labor market partly adapt to these conditions and perceive less risks.

 

Understandings of Risk: An Intersectional Analysis

Anna Olofsson, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

Susanna Öhman, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

Applying an intersectional perspective, this paper focuses on the understanding of risk and the significance of diversity. Intersectional theories are particularly interesting since it both captures stratification and power relations in society and the complexity of multiple belongings, that is, the meaning of being not only e.g. a woman but also poor, middle aged and belonging to a minority population. The aim is to gain deeper understanding of people’s way of defining and handling the concept of risk in relation to their unique position in society based on gender, place of origin, sexual orientation, lifespan position and place of residence. The study make use of the transcripts from 17 focus group interviews with men and women, people with foreign background and homo- and bisexuals at different ages living in different places in Sweden. The findings show how the intersections between individuals’ lived experience as well as socio-cultural and physical surroundings are linked to the way they understand and act in relation to risk. Experiences of discrimination and stigmatization among for example homosexual men and women as well as men and women with foreign background influence the way risk is handled in everyday life, as well as individual experiences of for example parenthood, war and illnesses. For some, particular kinds of risk have shaped their life. Risk in this way is not only something to be understood and dealt with, it is a part of the individual biography.

 

Risk, Uncertainty and Action

Alex Tham, Princeton University | [email protected]

In a pragmatist model of action, as outlined by theorists such as Hans Joas, actors project lines of action into the future based on the situation-at-hand that they experience in the present. Projected lines of action can be understood to include expectations and an intuitive sense of risk involved. Where risk is excessively high, expectations would tend to be low and alternative lines of action might be considered instead. But what about situations where the actor is uncertain about which action to take? My paper examines the social construction of expectation and risk, and the implications for action under uncertainty using the AddHealth dataset.

 

b04RN22 – Risk, Data and Governance

Chair: Christian Bröer (University of Amsterdam)

Incalculable but not Unimaginable: Researching the Aesthetics of Everyday Risk in UK Fire and Rescue Service Exercise Planning

Nathaniel O’Grady, Durham University | nathaniel.o’[email protected]

Since the 2004 Fire and Rescue Services Act and continuing in the contemporary, attending to the everyday risk of fire has been significantly renegotiated among multiple strategic lines. Overall, the UK Fire and Rescue Service has moved from simply governing fire risk to governing through fire risk. A host of analytic technologies have been embedded in the service to calculate, envision and project  risky futures, informing and legitimating decision making on how to govern this future. It is accepted in the service, however, that the nature of risk is one which cannot be entirely captured by conventional forms of risk analysis. In other words, there is a limit to analysis, beyond which fire risk is recognised as uncertain and incalculable. It is this limit point of conventional risk analysis with which this paper concerns itself. By critically examining the construction and deployment of exercise scenarios to imagine potentially dangerous future incidents, the way in which non-conventional, aesthetic, forms of knowledge are utilised to understand and speculate upon uncertain risks of the future is discussed. From the recognition of fire incidents which possess a quality never before experienced and their simulated staging, to how they come to inform decision making on how fire risks might be managed, this paper seeks to show how exercises are emblematic of new forms of techniques used to identify risks and become crucial to governing the future through action in the present.

 

A Risk-Generator State? The Construction of the Risk Related to Base Station Transmitters for Mobile Phones in Italy

Paolo Crivellari, University of Toulouse3-Paul Sabatier | [email protected]

In many countries worldwide base station transmitters for mobile phones (BST) have been associated to a health risk by the citizens, despite the lack of scientific evidence about carcinogenetic effects on human health due to electromagnetic non ionizing emissions. Environmental, economic and aesthetic issues related to BST have been progressively overshadowed in favour of a health frame. Now, the link between public health and BST cannot be taken for granted. As a matter of fact, no sanitary crisis or victims can be causally attributed to electromagnetic radiations. Therefore, a naturalistic approach explaining this link as the result of intrinsic properties of BST is not satisfying. Instead, constructivist approaches have been successfully applied to the risk related to BST in a comparative perspective (Adam Burgess) and in the case of France (Olivier Borraz), showing that the way in which governmental health regulation is framed plays a key-role in risk construction. The proposed paper is based on an empirical sociological case-study that has been conducted on the local and national level in Italy, using qualitative research techniques (semi-structured interviews and participant observation). It aims at explaining when, why and how the link between BST and human health has become self-evident in this country. Conclusions will focus on the effects of a regulation characterised by a health risk framing (Prodi government 1998) on citizens perception and will focus also on the politico-institutional structures in which risk regulation is conceived and on the role played by the State in risk construction.

 

Coping with Uncertainty: High-Tech Fetishism and the Politics of European Civil Security Research

Georgios Kolliarakis, University of Frankfurt | [email protected]

The rise of ‘Critical Infrastructure Protection’ and ‘Civil Security’ agendas in the past decade brought a shift of practice in the field of European security policy. Still, while most studies critically address state security policies, the role of security research in defining and prioritizing threats, influencing policy objectives, and developing the means to achieve them has been largely understudied. The argument of this paper is that current European security research is trapped by high tech fantasies of risk and uncertainty control. The promotion of technological solutions favors a narrow understanding of risks and legitimizes detection measures as the appropriate instruments to address them. The paper elucidates the politics of the European security research policy in order to explore the impact it has on the ontological aspect of insecurity and the epistemological one of uncertainty. First, the way stakeholders are engaged in security research reveals a strong supply-driven bias, not least due to the fact that EU Security Research is not managed by the EU DG Research & Innovation, but by DG Enterprise & Industry which favours market compatible technological solutions. Second, the frames used to deliver diagnoses and therapies focus on low-probability/high-impact catastrophes and promote high-tech gadgets as a response to comprehensive societal problems. Yet, regression to modernist illusions of surveillance comes together with a gap in transparency and accountability. In that fashion, threats become objectified and the choice of solutions depoliticized. This paper empirically examines EU documents and draws on the author’s participant observations from expert consultations on security research at EU level.

 

Risk Conception and Risk Management in the Age of Financialisation

Turf Böcker Jakobsen, SFI – The Danish National Centre for Social Research, [email protected]

Christian Poppe, The National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO), Oslo, [email protected]

Sharon Collard, University of Bristol | [email protected]

The deregulation of the Western economies from the late 1970s onwards has fundamentally changed the economic environments in which households operate. One obvious consequence is that home loans and consumer credit have become more easily available to almost everybody. From now on, all households – even the poor – are largely expected to take on responsibility for their own welfare using borrowed money. But just as important, this inevitably implies a financialisation of every-day life, i.e. an increasing dependence on the finance industry and financial products. As more and more loans are taken out to invest and consume, financial risks become a major issue for households. Based on 18 focus groups in Norway, Denmark and the UK (six in each country), covering lower, middle and higher income bands in two age cohorts (30-40 and 50-60 years), this paper analyses how financial risks are understood and managed across different country settings. Contrasting behavioral economic approaches with social theories of risk including those of Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens and Mary Douglas, we demonstrate how looming threats to household welfare are defined in financial as well as social terms without leading to adequate understandings of the need to mitigate risks. We argue that this is better explained at the social rather than the individual level, and that it has important implications for the social responsibility of modern welfare states.

 

a05RN22 – Perceiving Risk 2: Exploring Social Dynamics

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

A ‘Ritual’ against Health Risks?: Surgical Mask Wearing in Japan

Mitsutoshi Horii, Shumei University | [email protected]

Surgical mask wearing in Japan is a ritualistic form of action. It has been carried out by a significant proportion of the national population; and it has been embedded in people’s everyday lives. The notion of ‘ritual’ is employed in this paper in order to highlight the symbolic aspect of the practice. It is, however, not so much in the sense of the Durkheimian collective social ritual, nor Goffman’s interaction ritual, but more with a proximity to the carrying of amulets. In the 1920s, introduced from the West, carrying the symbolism of modern science, the practice of mask wearing replaced pre-modern ‘superstitious’ rituals against flu in Japan. It started with being worn by healthy individuals to avoid infection, followed by the infected as social etiquette, not to infect others. In addition to this usage which continues up to the present, by the 1990s, masks had been used widely by cedar pollinosis sufferers to avoid inhaling pollen. Since March 2011, radioactive particles from Fukushima have been added to the list of health risks to be avoided by wearing masks. What wearing a mask provides is peace of mind amidst uncertainties. Its instrumental values to reduce health risks are scientifically inconclusive. What is certain is that the practice precedes scientific discussions. The practice of mask wearing absorbs anxieties and uncertainties over heath risks and restores the sense of self-control over the body.

 

Time, Temporality and Technology: Rethink the Implications of a Different Relationship between Natural and Social Rythms

Emília R. Araújo, University of Minho | [email protected]

Due to the high speed of variations, expressed in an ever increasing emergence of alternatives, ways and possibilities to manipulate natural times and rhythms, it becomes more difficult to map the radicalness of changes taking place, as well as of their actually effects on people’s perceptions and experiences of the world. It becomes, we say, more difficult to take conscience of the progressive distance between the worlds of tecnotime-spaces and mediastimespaces and the world of institutions, rules, programs, values where, anyway, social life develops. Additionally it is even more difficult to discern how values, norms and principles do meet into that problematic articulation between materiality and visibility and immateriality, ubiquity and opportunity as well as how are societies and their institutions prepared to deal with the young generations whose contacts with the old time and temporality is almost and increasingly none. The communication is divided in three main points. First we explain the theoretical framework concerning the contribuition of time and temporality to deepen our knowledge on risk and uncertainty. Secondly we show the main focus of change between “old” and “new” regimes of temporality. Thirdly we show what are the main implications and the main tensions of that change for the present, using empirical data from a research made in Portugal about uses and represenations of time and technology.

 

‘Should I Be Worried?’ – Citizens Perceptions of Mobile Phone Technology Health Risks over Time.

Bert de Graaff, University of Amsterdam | [email protected]

Christian Bröer, University of Amsterdam | [email protected]

In this paper we examine how citizen’s perceptions of a specific health risk change over time in relation to changes in risk governance. This is part of a larger project on the effects of risk communication on citizens’ perceptions of the risks of electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with mobile phone technology. Earlier, we have investigated the interactions between key-actors of science, policy, industry and social movements on this issue in the Netherlands and found that scientific uncertainty is predominantly depoliticized in Dutch governance of the EMF and health issue. Citizens’ civic practices are rarely opened-up or explored. Here we compare these findings to two waves of longitudinal interview and survey data on two panels of citizens in the Netherlands. These citizens are confronted with the siting of a base-station for mobile phone technology in their neighborhood. In particular, we test the finding that issue-specific governance practices discipline citizens’ problem definitions (Bröer, 2008; Bröer & Duyvendak, 2012, Bröer et al, 2013). To do so, we work with an interpretive, relational sociological perspective on the ‘techno-social’ practices of base-station siting. We focus diachronically on the relation between, on the one hand, conceptualizations of risks and uncertainties in risk governance and specific siting practices, and, on the other hand, the conceptualizations of risk and uncertainties regarding mobile phone technology citizens express. Finally, we discuss methodological considerations when combining interpretive and survey-design in longitudinal research into risk perception.

 

b05RN22 – Dynamics of Risk Governance – Polycentric Regimes

Chair: Adam Burgess (University of Kent)

The Construction of Collective Attention to Environmental Health Risks through Social Conflicts

Aymeric Luneau, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris [email protected]

The main question which my paper deals with concerns the conditions in which environmental risks may become a shared problem. I am interested in the transformation of individual experiences into a collective attention to a particular situation. This issue, which Emerson and Messinger address in their article “The Micro-Politics of Trouble” (1977), is not new. When actors try to alert their family members, their friends, their neighbours, their co-workers or the public authorities about environmental risk, they should be involved in arguments to prove that this risk on the health and the environment is real. However, the conditions for the existence of social conflict involve actors engaging in exchanges about a particular subject (E. McMullin, 1987; D. Raynaud, 2003). For example, when an environmental risk triggers a scientific controversy or a political conflict, it becomes the core of discussion and it draws the attention of actors. Therefore, I would like to demonstrate that the collective attention about risks depends on the dynamics of conflict. I will illustrate my proposal with the comparison  between three environmental heatlh problems that I’m  analysing for my PhD work: the controversy over the reality of the “Multiple Chemical Syndrome”, the use of perchloroethylene in laundries and the health impact of the pollution around the “Etang de berre”, an industrial area near Marseilles. I aim to suggest that the lack of conflict over the “MCS syndrome” in the French situation could be a reason for the low public attention about this illness. I will conclude my paper with the link between the phenomena of crises, such as economic or environmental crises, and the inability of stakeholders to build a space for debates.

 

The Formation of Lithuanian Energy Security Discource: The Role of Politicians, Scientists and Media

Dainius Genys, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas | [email protected]

The aim of the paper is – to explain the role of politicians, scientists and media in Lithuanian energy security discourse formation. The empirical study was based on both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The paper deconstructs the process of energetic discourse formation, analyzes such features of the role of the actors of energy security discourse as initiativity and strategy; discusses the discourse circulation context; investigates the differences of speach on energy security between politicians, scientists and media. By using theories of risk society and discourse analysis, paper reveals the processes of risk and hazard formation within energetic sector in Lithuania. Lithuanian energy security discourse formation is based on competition between with energy business related interest groups and political parties. The initiative of discourse formation belongs to the government, but the real process is not transparent enough and is actually more bureaucratic rather than democratic. Both scientists and politicians are not only aware of the major energetic problems plaguing the country or of their consequences, but also of various strategies for their solutions. However, neither strategies nor solutions are consistently and effectively implemented in practice, due to the failure in finding a constructive relationship between the competing discourses and due to the disagreement on common goals between main actors. The research showes that Lithuania is lacking an institutional mechanism through which competence of scientists would be incorporated in decision making process. Media discourse is lacking strong actors and leaders who could form diverse and comprehensive discourse of energy security.

 

Collective Bargaining: An Alternative to Social Risk Potection?

Mara A Yerkes, The University of Queensland | [email protected]

Joan Corrie, The University of Queensland | [email protected]

Judith Raven, Erasmus University, Rotterdam | [email protected]

Welfare states have been under great pressure to reform existing social policies while simultaneously developing new social policies to facilitate social risk protection for issues related to training across the life course and work-care combinations. These pressures have intensified in many countries as a result of the global financial crisis (GFC). One possible means of alleviating these pressures is to rely on social partner involvement in social risk protection, for example through collective bargaining. Recent European scholarship has devoted attention to the issue of social risk compensation through collective bargaining (e.g. Ebbinghaus, 2011; Johnston et al., 2011; Yerkes, 2011). This literature demonstrates a significant capacity for collective bargaining to provide social risk protection. However, much of this literature focuses on European countries with relatively strong unions or significant bargaining coverage. The question remains whether collective agreements can offer similar protection in countries where the position of unions has significantly declined in recent decades or where bargaining coverage is lower. In this paper we look at the role of unions in social risk protection in Australia. How does the Australian case compare to European developments? Australia, with its minimal welfare state policies but significant industrial relations history, provides an opportunity to investigate empirically the role of unions and collective bargaining in social risk protection in a challenging institutional context. In this paper, we examine the role of trade unions and collective bargaining coverage in the reform of unemployment policy compared to the development of parental leave policy for 1997-2012.

 

The Constitution and Reconstitution of Risk in Crisis Preparedness and Response Training

Mikael Linnell, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

In recent years, education and exercise in societal crisis preparedness and response activities have increasingly proliferated. Thus, we tend to spend an increasing amount of time and resources being prepared for impending but uncertain negative events. Local community representatives, public institutions and organisations within critical infrastructure are expected to hold regular exercises in order to prepare for future potential crises. Likewise, civil sector organisations are utilized to assemble engaged citizens. Voluntary organisations dealing with societal crisis preparedness and response seek new ways to capture and educate the public. At the same time, the contemporary regime in managing societal crises is as cross-sectional and interorganisational collaboration. The purpose of this paper is to explore how the risk of uncertain future events is being constituted and reconstituted in the context of two voluntary organisations dealing with societal crisis preparedness and response. What kinds of risk-categories are members being taught to prepare for, what do these categories actually comprise, and how do members prepare for them? These issues will be explored in an object-oriented approach which draws on Harold Garfinkel´s notion of oriented objects (2003), Stephen Hilgartner´s notion of risk objects (1992), and Susan Leigh Star & James Griesemer´s notion of boundary objects (1989). These different notions of objects share the basic assumption that social objects, like risks, must be mutually oriented, which means that they must be rendered in a mutually intelligible form in order to exist as social objects (Rawls 2008).

 

a06RN22 – Sense-Making of Risks: Groups and Social Dynamics

Chair: Anna Olofsson (Mid-Sweden University)

The Role of Risk in Repeated Information Cascades

Katarzyna Abramczuk, University of Warsaw, [email protected]

Shenghua Luan, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, [email protected]

Rocio Garcia-Retamero, University of Granada | [email protected]

We investigate experimentally the role of risk in sequential choices. In information cascades agents imitate predecessors’ decisions ignoring private information to maximize individual payoffs. This harms information aggregation and payoff at the group level. When cascading game is repeated this negative consequence can be overcome by maintaining a reciprocal cycle, in which agents take turns to reveal their private information in early positions of a decision sequence. It requires cooperation in Public Good Games style. We analyse determinants of this cooperation experimentally and show that participants are more likely to reveal their private information in the beginning of the decision sequence when the sequence is reshuffled in each iteration i.e. reciprocity is possible. Next we show that this effect is heightened by a risky payoff scheme. Most phenomena being described in terms of cascading such as investing behaviours are characterized by such scheme. It increases both the risk to the individual and group benefit from revealing choices. We show that the players reveal more in this case. We also show that when both factors are at work i.e. sequence is random and payoff scheme is risky the actual group payoff exceeds payoff to perfectly Bayesian group. Furthermore we provide some insight into group processes standing behind the phenomena described above and show when people perceive other group members as both more trustworthy and more trustful.

 

From the Sociology of Risk to the Sociology of Responsibility. Interpretations, Links, Fields of Application.

Barbara Sena, University of S. Tommaso D’Aquino, Rome, [email protected]

In the sociological literature the connection between the concepts of responsibility and risk has not yet been analyzed with due care and specificity (for example Kermisch, 2012; Lenk, Maring, 2001; Lenk, 2007). Both of these concepts, moreover, does not have an unambiguous definition and there is not a single interpretation of their relationship. In the technical analysis, the risk is mainly defined as a statistical value that presumes the occurrence of undesirable events, which may or may not occur. At first glance, the connection between this strictly quantitative conception of risk and the notion of responsibility may seem weak, and this is why the notion of risk is totally disconnected from the actors who are at risk and thus the allocation of their responsibilities. That’s the reason because often the concept of risk is not integrated with any notion of responsibility. In addition, the responsibility is considered mainly from the ethical and philosophical point of view and it is often related to an individual and not to a group or the society as a whole. On this basis, the paper aims to analyze explicitly the link between the sociology of risk, as it has emerged in the international debate, and the sociology of social responsibility, which is still to be explored and clarified especially as a reading of the phenomena of risk. The paper will outline the possible theoretical connections, but also will try to clarify in what areas this theory may find significant applications for the understanding of the social reality and the many problems associated with the risk society.

 

b06RN22 – The Social, Spatial and Physical Environments of Risk Perception

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Cozy Smoke? The Role of Attitudes and Knowledge in Public Perception of Wood Smoke as an Environmental Health Risk

Sari Ung-Lanki, National Institute for Health and Welfare | [email protected]

Timo Lanki, National Institute for Health and Welfare | [email protected]

Environmental factors have a significant impact on human health worldwide. In the developed countries, fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) has been identified as a main contributor to the environmental burden of disease (EBD), together with radon, passive smoking, UV-radiation and noise. As knowledge on health impacts of various environmental factors has increased, understanding public perception of these risks – the ways in which people construct their own recognition of risks, reflect the messages they receive and deal with the risks – has become elemental in risk communication and management. This study is based on the research project on public perception of environmental health risks in Finland (N=1112), and examines diverse factors associated with health risk perception in the case of residential wood smoke. The average contribution of wood combustion to fine particles (PM2.5) ranges from 31% to 66% at the suburban sites in the cold season (Saarnio ym. 2012), yet wood smoke is perceived substantially less harmful for both personal and general health than air pollution from other sources. Similarly, people are not that annoyed by, or sensitive to wood smoke than to traffic-related air pollution. Associations between wood smoke and certain chronic diseases are not well acknowledged. These issues, together with the notions that small scale wood combustion holds a considerable cultural value to Finns, and is perceived as a significant renewable energy source in households, make it interesting to compare the role of attitudinal and knowledge-based factors related to wood combustion with variables (perceived exposure, sensitivity, perceived health and background variables) associated with risk perception in general.

 

Comparative Analysis of Environmental and Technological Risk Perceptions: Factors and Contexts

Aistė Balžekienė, Kaunas University of Technology | [email protected]

This presentation will explore the perception of various environmental and technological problems in comparative international perspective. This presentation is using the results of International Social Survey Programme “Environment” module that was conducted in 2010 in 32 countries around the world. Lithuania participated in the module for the first time that creates an opportunity to analyze risk perceptions in comparative international perspective. The analysis will elaborate on the local contexts and determining factors in different countries that frame public perception of environmental and technological risks. The survey results revealed that public perceptions of the most important environmental problems are closely related to the local contexts and local issues. For example, people in Switzerland are mostly concerned with the storage of nuclear waste, people in Japan are mostly worried about climate change, and Lithuanians are anxious about air pollution. This presentation also will examine structural, contextual and attitudinal factors that frame public risk perceptions of such issues as air pollution caused by cars and industry, water pollution, pesticides and chemicals used in farming, climate change, GMO and nuclear power, as provided in ISSP questionnaires.

 

Spatializing Global Risk: Regulating Pandemic Circulation

Sven Opitz, Hamburg University | [email protected]

This paper looks at the regulatory geographies of pandemic risk. It takes as its premise the importance of discourses on future emergencies for the emergence of spatial frameworks. As Michel Foucault has pointed out, modes of ordering space have often been devised as governmental answers to perceived threats towards public health. The paper analyses how the perception of pandemic risk in the last decade has functioned as an instance for rethinking governmental rationalities that work mainly through a legal administrative logic. As will be argued, these legal regulatory frameworks, such as the International Health Regulations (IHR) of 2005, articulate two distinct, albeit connected, spatialities of risk governance. The first one is a space of global circulations. SARS has been coined as being the “first post-Westphalian pathogen” since the dynamic of viral contagion transgresses the territorial order of modern political space. The discourse on pandemic risk articulates a regulatory space that depicts a globe full of dangerous transmission routes subject to dispersed networks of biosurveillance. At the same time, this global space is fragmented by zones of intensified governmental control at infrastructural nodal points such as airports and harbors. In these zones of control, technologies of screening and quarantine are applied to modulate the connectivity of people, organic matter and things. Processes of de- and reterritorialization, thus, fold into each other when it comes to acting on an uncertain, potentially catastrophic future. As a whole, the paper seeks to further the understanding of how risk perception is instrumental for articulating a spatial order of the globe by employing law as a regulatory technique.

 

a07RN22 – Health Risks: Processes of Definition and Categorisation

Chair: Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

Psychosocial Health of Residents Exposed to Urban Groundwater Contamination

Frederic Vandermoere, University of Antwerp | [email protected]

Josephine Foubert, Ghent University | [email protected]

Mainstream research within the field of ‘risk studies’ tends to focus exclusively on ‘risk’. As recently noted by Judith Green (2009, p. 495) this indeed questions the extent to which a risk-framing “pre-empts the questions we ask and the answers we generate.” Against this background we explore psychosocial responses by residents confronted with groundwater contamination in a Belgian neighborhood. Particularly, we focus on the role of risk perception and communication in explaining the psychosocial health status of the affected residents. Using a mail survey design (N=138) it is shown that the mental health status of these residents does not significantly differ from a non-exposed group. In a second step it is shown that risk perception has a negative effect on mental health, yet only if residents received information about the contamination through neighbors or public meetings. Low to moderate concerns about the health risks of groundwater contamination relate to the fact that the impact of the contamination on people’s everyday practices was limited. As the main potential exposure route requires the use of groundwater, residents felt able to control the exposure route and the resulting health risks, despite the fact that many people recognized the presence of hazards.Additional interview data reveal that other local concerns were of greater importance to many residents (e.g. lack of parking space, litter or illegal dumping, road traffic congestion, etc.). In sum, this case study reveals that insights into broader community dynamics can provide a new contextual layer to interpret low to moderate perceived risks on the one hand, and the potentially limited psychosocial impact of chemical exposure on the other.

 

Natural, Homemade and Real – Undoing Risk while Doing Food

Elin Montelius, Mid Sweden University | [email protected]

In this paper I explore intersections of risk, gender and class in internet postings. In contemporary society there is a heightened awareness about what food is the “right” thing to eat and what one should avoid, due to contemporary discourses of food and risk. The notion of risk carries with it a notion of responsibility, the responsibility to choose right. Risk is viewed as a technology of the self, and discourses about food and risk as part of normalizing processes. The results show that people negotiate the meaning of food as risky or not. The writers draw on discourses of food where the homemade food is viewed as natural and healthy, and the ready-made food is viewed as unnatural and risky. The categorization of different food stuffs has implications for the subject positions that are available, since the positioning of certain food as risky positions the eater of that food in certain ways. A normative conception of femininity seems to be interconnected to the regulation of food risk. The struggle for definition of food as risky or not is thus also a struggle for respectability, a struggle over moral authority and the attribution of value to different subjects according to their ability to present themselves as responsible and risk avoiding in accordance with the norm.

 

b07RN22 – Governing Nuclear Energy Production

Chair: Paolo Crivellari (University of Toulouse)

Signaled and Silenced Aspects of Nuclear Safety

Marja Ylönen, University of Jyväskylä | [email protected]

Nuclear safety has become an important topic after the Fukushima nuclear power accident. The disaster set in motion an international learning process, such as the stress tests carried out in Europe to reassess the robustness of nuclear power plants. Besides, the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency have addressed safety matters and called for efforts to improve nuclear safety. Previous study, conducted by the author of this abstract shows weaknesses in prevailing safety concept. Human and organizational aspects of safety have been reified to individuals’ performance and qualities. This kind of understanding, although relevant, cannot capture the complex reality of interactions at the organizational level. In this paper I will deploy the concepts of dominant co-operative scheme (Buchanan 1996) and meaning-boundaries as analytical tools for exploring the safety aspects that are either signaled or silenced in the safety reports of the IAEA and the OECD NEA. The method of study is content analysis.

 

Nuclear Issue, Risk and Design of “Confiscation of Democracy”. The Italian Case

Davide Borrelli, University of Salento | [email protected]

Mihaela Gavrila, Sapienza University, Rome | [email protected]

Sarah Siciliano, University of Salento | [email protected]

The economic crisis is affecting the patterns of political governance because of the compression of public arenas about the issues concerning quality of life and energy supply. The Italian controversy on the energy matter is emblematic of two increasingly obvious phenomena: in contemporary democracies, we find plans of emptying some of the democratic institutions, clashing with attempts of reappropriation of spaces of democracy from below: on the one hand, the deficit of social and cultural legitimacy suffered by political institutions, on the other hand, the design of “confiscation of democracy” in which the policy maker tries to counteract prior instances of deliberative participation advanced by the public opinion. Virtually ignored by mainstream media, the debate on nuclear power has been in the middle of a dense network of conversations from below, which eventually affect public opinion. The success of the referendum on the nuclear issue enshrines the internet as an alternative political engine and, at the same time, a tool of “self-summoning” for the citizens. By comparing data on old and new media, it’s shown how networked conversations have ended up conditioning the media agenda and affecting the public opinion by the conveying of values and interests once alien to the interpretive framework in which the case was politically orchestrated. The still unresolved issue concerns the affinities and semantic break between old and new movements in terms of communication strategies used to achieve consensus and to overturn the status quo. It remains to understand how the media platforms will transform themselves to meet the challenge of energy emitted by these social forms of civic engagement.

 

Is Long-Term Nuclear Waste Repository Governance in Need of a Plan?

Catharina Landström, University of East Anglia | [email protected]

Anne Bergmans, University of Antwerp | [email protected]

As national strategies for siting deep geological disposal facilities for high level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel are being transformed into more democratic procedures, involving local participation, new socio-technical challenges arise. In this paper we address the intriguing absence of discussion of long-term management and governance of repositories, questioning the extent to which the initial concept of geological disposal, as ensuring both the isolation of waste in geological formations and its geographical separation from human societies, still holds. Even if physically at a relative distance (although even that may not be the case everywhere), voluntary, and other more participatory siting processes that presently show some promise of leading to the implementation of geological disposal, create proximity between the host community and the disposal facility. This makes the extreme long-term less important than the much nearer future in which repository operations and closure are scheduled to take place; particularly given the fact that this process in itself is likely to stretch over several generations. However, while national strategies and policies provide clear guidelines for how to negotiate and decide on the siting of repositories, they are less clear on long-term governance after siting. This paper will explore the consequences of implementing and operating these controversial facilities (characterised by a remaining and unavoidable degree of uncertainty as to their future behaviour) in democratic social environments in which concerned actors and affected citizens will claim their right to be informed and have a say about what decisions are made.

 

Expert and Lay Constructions of Repository Monitoring in the Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste

Peter Simmons, University of East Anglia | [email protected]

Anne Bergmans, University of Antwerp | [email protected]

Mark Elam, University of Gothenburg | [email protected]

Göran Sundqvist, University of Oslo | [email protected]

International programs to develop a solution to the problem of high-level radioactive waste have largely converged on geological disposal. As these efforts move closer to licensing and implementation, increasing attention is being given to the apparently technical challenges of developing strategies and specific technologies for repository monitoring. In this paper we examine the different meanings associated with repository monitoring by citizens from affected communities. The paper draws upon the work of a European research project: Monitoring Developments for Safe Repository Operation and Staged Closure (MoDeRn). It analyses workshops conducted in three countries – Belgium, Sweden and the United Kingdom – with citizens living in affected communities and during a stakeholder visit to research facilities in Switzerland. What we find in these discussions are societal demands-in the- making of repository monitoring. We explore the results from each country and trace the socio-technical combinations that  emerge from them. The paper considers the tensions between citizens’ constructions of monitoring – and of associated roles and responsibilities – and those of the expert community. The paper concludes by reflecting on the implications of these nascent demands for current efforts to achieve the passivication of higher activity radioactive wastes and the pacification of social conflicts around radioactive waste disposal.

 

a08RN22 – Risk and Processes of Responsibilising

Chair(s): Patrick Brown (University of Amsterdam)

The Job of Being at Risk. A Qualitative Study on Womens Managing Genetic Risk of Cancer in Everyday Life

Maria Caiata Zufferey, University of Geneva | [email protected]

Since fifteen years, genetic tests are available to identify the predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer due to specific gene mutations. Sometimes healthy women get tested. In case of adverse results, they receive a probabilistic information: they know that they carry the mutation associated with the illness, but they  don’t know if the illness is going to develop. Once classified as being at-risk, these women encounter an implicit social imperative to exercise control in order to maintain health. They are thus required to conceive health as a project to be worked on, and they are expected to manage risk in their daily life. Yet, the way they are supposed to do it is far from being clear. International guidelines were defined to assist patients’ decisions, but they are far from being shared by all physicians and are not easy to apply in daily life. Genetically at-risk women are then required to manage their health status in a context of great uncertainty. This paper provides insights into the process of managing genetic risk in daily life. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 26 women genetically at risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, it describes the difficulties the participants meet in managing genetic risk in daily life and it illustrates the main activities they have to perform to do it. Based on these results, we argue that managing risk in a context of uncertainty is a complex process that includes strong individual agency and reflexivity.

 

Self-Care and Self-Regulation in Managing Genetic Risk

Tabea Eißing, Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg | [email protected]

Risk-calculation is a common tool in health care and medicine. In the context of biomedicine risk appears in a new shape: as genetic risks. Through predictive genetic tests a mutation can be identified which is associated with a higher risk of developing a disease in the future. The paper draws on experiences of women affected by a genetic risk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer drawn from the ongoing social science research project “Genetic Discrimination in Germany”. How do these women manage the status of ‘being genetically at-risk’? Numerous uncertainties go along with the genetic diagnosis. Predictive genetic tests don’t make a statement if a person will fall ill at all or what shape the course of the disease might take. Life plans may have to be negotiated in a new way. The question of inheritance arouses, too. Women ask themselves: ‘Do I pass on the genetic predisposition to my children?’ Added to this, the efficacy of available preventive measures isn’t certain. I illustrate the ways of managing ‘being genetically at-risk’. Perceptions, interpretations of genetic risk and practiced preventive behaviors are presented. Beliefs concerning genetic risk management and ideas of one person’s responsibility for genetic risk are visualized. In the end I discuss: Do women embodied beliefs of being self-regulative, self governing and responsible subjects like it is constructed in neo-liberal rationalities in modern welfare states? What impact goes along with the embodiment of these rationalities for stance on one’s own responsibility for genes and health in the broader social context?

 

Private Versus Public Responsibility within Health Risk Management A Case Study: The Difficult Implementation of New Policies Preventing Dengue Fever Epidemics in Martinique and French Guyana

Elise Mieulet, Aix-Marseille University | [email protected]

Cécilia Claeys, Aix-Marseille University | [email protected]

This paper proposes an analysis of risk management related to the epidemics caused by Aedes aegypti, vector of dengue fever. This analysis is based on a qualitative corpus of 70 interviews and direct observation conducted in Martinique and French Guyana, with residents and institutional actors. Epidemics associated with this mosquito are seen by the relevant institutions as a priority public health problem. Aedes aegypti, defined as a ‘domestic’ mosquito, has colonized artificial breeding grounds in gardens, plant pots, and in any small container. In addition, it has developed increasing genetic resistance toward insecticides. Therefore, traditional mosquito control methods, especially the large-scale spreading of insecticides began inefficient. In this context, during the last decade, the authorities have focused their activities on prevention and information campaigns to raise awareness on the management of private space and the normalization of behavior. However they face recurrent passive or active resistances from the local population. Mobilizing traditional Foucault’s theoretical framework regarding biopower and recent findings highlighted by Borraz and Gilbert (2008) related the “authoritarian disengagement of the State”, this presentation analyses the tension between private and public responsibility within the implementation of new health risk policies. Firstly, the construction of dengue epidemics as a contemporary public problem will be studied. Then secondly, the forms of reception and appropriation/non-appropriation of public communication and awareness campaigns by the population will be analyzed.