Social Contexts and Responses to Risk: Final Report

Taylor-Gooby, Peter F. Social Contexts and Responses to Risk: Final Report. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

NETWORK CO-ORDINATOR’S FINAL REPORT 1. Executive Summary • The Social Contexts and Responses to Risk Priority Network seeks to develop research on the influence of social context on perceptions of and responses to risk and uncertainty, and to engage stake-holders and research users in the work. It covers a broad range of disciplines, themes and methods and brings together sociologists, psychologists, economists, experts on social policy, the media, socio-legal studies and law and other social scientists from 14 universities. It is mainly financed by an ESRC grant of £2.7m from 2003 to 2008. • It is particularly concerned to: - Advance understanding of specific risk topics addressed in individual projects and bring this together in developing social science perspectives on risk; - Advance theoretical work, notably by examining the contribution of different disciplines and by exploiting opportunities to develop linkages between them; - Advance methodological work, especially by introducing little used methods, linking together different methodologies and triangulating between them; - Contribute to policy and practice debates and to public engagement. • The Network has made substantial progress in relation to these objectives. It has made contributions to:  The understanding of risk issues in relation to new forms of family, inter-generational interactions, the values and perceptions of different social groups, the role of media imagery in risk debates, the complexities of regulation, the limitations of widely-used methods of gaining information on preferences for public policy choices, the range and ambiguity of perceptions of new and risky technologies and the impact of the introduction of New Public Management on confidence in public services;  The informed and evidence-based critique of influential ‘risk society’ and ‘individual rational actor’ approaches to risk;  The advance of methodological work in a number of areas, particularly longitudinal and inter-generational work, the use of palm-top computers in diary recording and of sophisticated computer links in monitoring interactions, and the combination of research methods, typically associated with different disciplines;  Public engagement and policy debate at a range of levels through user workshops organised to promote individual projects, media activity and publications in non-academic media and through the contributions made by network members to official reports and enquiries and their contacts with policy-makers; and  Advancing cross-national academic engagement through its vigorous promotion of international networking groups and presentation of its work at a number of international conferences and through its activities in laying the groundwork for continuing international networking on the theme of risk. • Its work demonstrates the potential for linking psychological, economic, sociological and social policy perspectives and the particular value of contributions from social psychology and psychology in facilitating this. • The research has strong implications for public policy in a number of areas. These include:  The legal framework of marriage and partnership;  Support for individuals in managing their education and career plans in an increasingly uncertain social world;  Ensuring that the diverse values of different social groups are given full weight in relation to financial services and employment policies;  The presentation of risk issues to the public in planning and policy debates;  The acceptability of regulation in freer markets for financial services and media content;  The use of public preference surveys as a means of gathering public views on policy choice;  The assessment of responses to the siting of risky technology; and  The development of approaches to management in public services that address the cost-efficiency imperative without undermining public trust. • The Network has been exceptionally successful in developing continuing international links through the founding of a Thematic Group (TG04) on the Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty in the International Sociological Association (ISA) and an equivalent group (RN22) in the European Sociological Association (ESA). These activities enhance the visibility of SCARR research from an international perspective, ensure that a framework is in place for the continuance of SCARR Network activities after ESRC funding comes to an end and position the UK as a leading player in developing future cross-disciplinary work on risk. • Publications by Network members include three books, a journal special issue, 66 refereed journal articles and 52 chapters, more than 150 conference presentations and more than 30 working papers with more outputs at various stages of preparation (see Annex C). • The Network has organised three international conferences and major contributions to eight other conferences organised by different, mainly international bodies, and seven targeted engagement events for various groups of research users. These activities are in addition to those developed in collaboration with individual projects and will lead to a further conference in Beijing in 2009. • The SCARR website (www.kent.ac.uk/scarr) contains information on a range of issues relevant to risk uncertainty research and makes more than 150 working and conference papers available. This website will continue to be maintained and developed by the Kent department. • SCARR’s activities strengthen cross-disciplinary empirical work on risk issues and promote and develop opportunities for cross-national comparative work on this field. The majority of current work is at the level of sophisticated case-studies. The development of integrative and comparative approaches is an important step forward. Current research proposals seek to advance this. • SCARR has also contributed to capacity-building in a number of ways:  Through the development of individual researchers;  Through the promotion of inter-disciplinary competence and understanding;  Through acquaintance with a wider range of methodological approaches than is normally possible within dispersed projects; and  Through the experience of developing relevant skills and presenting research to audiences ranging from academics at international conferences to policy-makers and to the general public. • The value added to research in this field through grouping the projects within the SCARR Priority Network has been substantial, in ensuring that project research is pursued vigorously and effectively, in facilitating interdisciplinary linkages, in ensuring that researchers at different career stages have access to a range of methods and perspectives, in promoting a wide dissemination of activities across academic communities, in engaging policy-makers, business, NGOs and the wider public in its work through open workshops and media activity and in supporting the establishment of a strong and continuing international research group.

Item Type: Research report (external)
Projects: [16] Social Contexts and Responses to Risk
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Peter Taylor-Gooby
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 09:24
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 15:49
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/18955 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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