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Risk, Society and Policy Making: Risk Governance in a Complex World

Volume 7, Number 4, July 2011 - Paper 4 - pp. 349-366


University of Stuttgart, Seidenstrasse 36, 70174 Stuttgart

(Received on August 08, 2009 revised on October 16, 2009 and finally on April 7, 2011)


The notion “risk governance” refers to an integrated concept on how to deal with public risks in general, and so-called complex, ambiguous and uncertain risks in particular. These ideas have been informed by interdisciplinary research drawing from sociological and psychological research on risk, Science & Technology Studies (STS) and research by policy scientists and legal scholars. The notion of risk governance pertains to the many ways in which many actors, individuals and institutions, public and private, deal with risks. It includes formal institutions and regimes and informal arrangements. It thus pertains to the complex whole of what traditionally has been called -and treated as separate activities- “risk assessment”, “risk management” and “risk communication”. After a short summary of the roots of risk governance, key concepts, such as simple, uncertain, complex and ambiguous risks, will be discussed. The main emphasis will be on each of the five phases of risk governance: pre-assessment, appraisal, risk characterization/evaluation; risk management and risk communication. The paper will first provide some theoretical and conceptual thoughts on how to design risk management programs based on risk reduction, resilience and discourse.


References: 54

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