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Experts' Views on Societal Risk Attention1

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In the public debate about risks and in the making of risk policies, experts and professionals within governmental agencies, as well as academic researchers, play important roles. It is therefore of interest to study what risks these actors believed deserve more attention and what risks they regard as overly emphasized. This paper considers the attention to risks in society, the connection between identified risks and domain of expertise and the different roles of experts in society; do they act as promoters or protectors? This paper is based on a questionnaire sent to 639 Swedish professionals in risk‐related fields. The response rate was 67% and the respondents' domain of expertise covered a wide range of fields. It was hypothesized that experts to a greater extent regard risks within their own domain as over‐emphasized rather than as neglected and that the respondents will indicate other actors than those within their own organization as giving risks inappropriate levels of attention. The results showed that the experts identified risks in very diverse fields and not exclusively within their own domain. Relationships between identified risks and domain of expertise could be documented—experts were more inclined to indicate risks within their own domain as over‐emphasized rather than as neglected.

Keywords: Risk perception; experts; neglect

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Center for Risk Research, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

Publication date: 2006-04-01

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