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Risk society and representations of risks: Earthquakes and beyond

Joffe, H; O'Connor, C; (2013) Risk society and representations of risks: Earthquakes and beyond. In: Joffe, H and Rossetto, T and Adams, J, (eds.) Cities at Risk: Living with Perils in the 21st Century. (pp. 9-23). Springer

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Abstract

This chapter explores how lay publics respond to potential disasters. It contends that the current risk perception field largely neglects the common-sense beliefs and emotions that lie at the root of public responses to risks. The chapter challenges several of the assumptions that buttress the conventional construal of the terms ‘risk’ and ‘perception’. It proposes that the current focus on how the individual mind cognitively processes predictable, calculable phenomena should be replaced by emphasis on how emotional and socio-cultural beings represent often unknowable potential catastrophes. Social representations theory is put forward as a viable theoretical framework within which this shift could be achieved. The chapter illustrates the value of a social representations approach to studying risk by presenting the findings of a cross-cultural study examining social representations of earthquakes in cities at risk of earthquakes in the US, Japan and Turkey. The chapter concludes by proposing routes by which the findings of such studies could be channelled into behavioural intervention programmes.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Risk society and representations of risks: Earthquakes and beyond
Keywords: risk, social representations, natural hazards, earthquakes
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1401601
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