Can policy be risk-based? : the cultural theory of risk and the case of livestock disease containment

Duckett, Dominic and Wynne, Brian and Christley, Robert M. and Heathwaite, Louise and Mort, Maggie and Austin, Zoe and Wastling, Jonathan M. and Latham, Sophia and Alcock, Ruth and Haygarth, Philip (2015) Can policy be risk-based? : the cultural theory of risk and the case of livestock disease containment. Sociologia Ruralis, 55 (4). pp. 379-399. ISSN 1467-9523

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This article explores the nature of calls for risk-based policy present in expert discourse from a cultural theory perspective. Semi-structured interviews with professionals engaged in the research and management of livestock disease control provide the data for a reading proposing that the real basis of policy relating to socio-technical hazards is deeply political and cannot be purified through ‘escape routes’ to objectivity. Scientists and risk managers are shown calling, on the one hand, for risk-based policy approaches while on the other acknowledging a range of policy drivers outside the scope of conventional quantitative risk analysis including group interests, eventualities such as outbreaks, historical antecedents, emergent scientific advances and other contingencies. Calls for risk-based policy are presented, following cultural theory, as ideals connected to a reductionist epistemology and serving particular professional interests over others rather than as realistic proposals for a paradigm shift.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Sociologia Ruralis
Additional Information:
© 2014 The Authors. Sociologia Ruralis published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society for Rural Sociology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Sociologia Ruralis, Vol 55, Number 4, October 2015
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? risk based policylivestock disease controlcultural theoryexpert discoursesociotechnical hazardssocial sciences(all)sociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
06 Jan 2015 09:00
Last Modified:
11 Jan 2024 00:15