The social construction of risk by young people

AUSTEN, L. (2009). The social construction of risk by young people. Health, risk and society, 11 (5), 451-470.

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The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical analysis of a widely accepted risk discourse. This discussion presents a range of data which aims to highlight weaknesses in the widespread application of the 'risk society' thesis (Beck 1992). This paper uses the lives of young people as a context specific example. This selection of quantitative and qualitative data, taken from a school-based case study, is juxtaposed against theoretical reasoning throughout this paper. Three main assumptions made by the 'risk society' thesis are critiqued using this empirical data: (1) risk is a negative concept, (2) risk is aligned with uncertainty and worry, and (3) those living in the 'risk society' have become sceptical of expert opinions. The conclusion suggests that by using pockets of mixed methodology the extensive acceptance of the 'risk society' thesis can be critiqued. By stimulating this debate it becomes clear that each of the individual criticisms need further research. This paper provides a platform for future empirical work which would look to strengthen the social constructionist framework involved in an appreciation of risk, moving away from the recent trend in grand risk theorising, to context specific data collection and explanation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: risk, risk perception, risk society, social construction, young people
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Hallam Centre for Community Justice
Identification Number:
Page Range: 451-470
Depositing User: Users 4 not found.
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2010 14:54
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:30

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