Miscommunicating ideas: some key lessons for risk management.
Durodie, William John Louis Victor
This PhD submission consists of twelve articles and six reviews published over the period 1999 to 2007, together with a context statement that seeks to draw out the dominant themes, methodologies and results of my research. Essentially, I have examined the impact on the risk management of certain areas in science and security, of two significant trends that emerged and merged within contemporary society over the last 25 years.\ud These are; processes of 'individuation' and of lde-politicisation'. Together, they have helped shape a new culture for policy-making and communication in most fields which, I suggest, has adverse consequences.\ud 'Individuation' refers to the gradual breakdown of social bonds of solidarity and community which, while hardly new in capitalist society, accelerated in their reach and consequence over this period. Individuals isolated from strong social networks are ultimately weak. 'De-politicisation' refers to the loss of interest and participation in mainstream politics, which has also been widely noted and commented upon. This reached\ud new heights (or lows) in the current period, and is distinct from the 'politicisation’ of both science and security.\ud These themes are explored further elsewhere, but it is my contention that their convergence has led to the creation of a new culture of risk management and communication which I have sought to critique.\ud My research, presented in the accompanying papers, has utilised a diverse set of methodological approaches, focusing primarily on the reinterpretation of existing data and analysis through a series of case-studies.\ud Intelligence, in both the general sense and in the world of security, consists of a combination of information and interpretation. My purpose here has been to present an alternative framework for contemporary debates.\ud My work has revealed the impact of these key processes and the new culture and identities - vulnerable victims and assertive advocates - that have been created by them. I have examined numerous manifestations and limitations of these.\ud My articles confirm the rise of a culture more worried over possibilities than probabilities. The precautionary principle in science and pre-emptive action in relation to perceived security threats are examples of this.\ud I conclude by noting that this has led to society being reorganised around risk. By miscommunicating risk - to connect with isolated individuals - politicians and officials will further exacerbate the trends identified above.\ud By implication, I point to the possibility of an alternative - a debate about risks that maintains a sense of perspective and proportion, thereby rekindling the social bonds that generate confident individuals and purposeful politics.
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