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Interrupting the social amplification of risk process: a case study in collective emissions reduction

Busby, J S and Alcock, R E and MacGillivray, B H (2009) Interrupting the social amplification of risk process: a case study in collective emissions reduction. Environmental Science and Policy, 12 (3). pp. 297-308. ISSN 1462-9011

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    Abstract

    One of the main approaches we have for studying the progressive divergence of understandings around a risk issue is that of social risk amplification. This article describes a case study of a particular environmental contaminant, a chemical flame retardant that could be interpreted as having produced a risk amplifying process. It describes in particular how a group of industrial organizations acted collectively to reduce emissions of this contaminant, in an apparent attempt to avert regulation and boycotts—that is, to intercept the social amplification process and avoid its secondary effects. The aim of the study was to investigate the constitutive qualities of this collective action: the qualities that defined it and made it effective in the eyes of those involved. These include institutionalisation and independence, the ability to confer individual as well as collective benefit, the capacity to attract (rather than avoid) criticism, and the ‘branding’ that helps communicate what otherwise appear to be a set of unconnected, local actions. Although the risk amplification framework has been criticised for implying that there is some externally given risk level that is subsequently amplified, it does appear to capture the mentality of actors involved in issues of this kind. They talk and act as though they believe they are participants in a risk amplification process.

    Item Type: Article
    Journal or Publication Title: Environmental Science and Policy
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Social amplification ; Emissions reduction ; Brominated flame retardants ; PBDEs
    Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
    Departments: Lancaster University Management School > Management Science
    ID Code: 28106
    Deposited By: Dr Ruth Alcock
    Deposited On: 10 Nov 2009 10:14
    Refereed?: Yes
    Published?: Published
    Last Modified: 20 Feb 2013 09:42
    Identification Number:
    URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/28106

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