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University of Gothenburg
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Photo: Ruthson Zimmerman

Risk and Society

Risk is a salient topic on the agenda of politicians, regulators, NGOs and the media. As a research field the study of risk is truly multi-disciplinary. Contributions to knowledge of how risk issues are understood and managed in society, by individuals, groups and organizations, derives from disciplines such as geography, economy, sociology, social anthropology, philosophy, psychology, media and communication science, and political science. During the last decades the research literature on the identification, assessment, and management of risk and the way it is communicated has grown considerably.

Social science approaches are used to explore how conceptions of risk derive from collective beliefs and situated practices concerned with contingency and values at stake. Organizational and institutional forces in the management, regulation and communication of risk through the interaction of diverse perspectives and rationalities constitute key themes.

Among the research topics we find concern for nature in risk debates; hopes, visions and fears associated with technological innovation; public trust; citizen involvement in policy and decision making; communication by government agencies, and the role of science in public deliberation and decision making.

The program aims both for robust empirical studies of societal risk issues and theoretical development, including synthesis regarding cultural, epistemological, institutional and organizational dimensions of risk and its communication and management.