Governing Disasters
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Governing Disasters

The Challenges of Emergency Risk Regulation

Edited by Alberto Alemanno

This is the first volume that addresses the complexities of the volcanic ash cloud that overshadowed Europe in April 2011, but has subsequently struck again in Australia, Chile and Europe. It does so from a multidisciplinary perspective, drawing upon research from economics, law, sociology and other fields, as well as volcanology and leading expertise in jet engineering. Whilst our knowledge base is wide-ranging, there is a common focus on the practical lessons of the ash cloud crisis both for subsequent eruptions and for emergency risk regulation more generally.
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Chapter 15: The Fallout from the Fallout: Hazards, Risks and Organizational Learning

Christopher Lawless


JOBNAME: Alermanno PAGE: 3 SESS: 5 OUTPUT: Tue Sep 6 13:22:57 2011 15. The fallout from the fallout: hazards, risk and organizational learning Christopher Lawless 15.1 INTRODUCTION: UNDERSTANDING RISK IN A COMPLEX WORLD In a world of choices, risk is an inevitable and unavoidable aspect of everyday life. Yet while we as individuals may experience the outcomes of risk, the manner in which risks arise, and the practices and procedures through which risk is comprehended and understood, display a distinctly socialized character. Sociologists have for some time emphasized the instrumental organizing role risk plays in modern societies. The work of Beck (1992) has proved particularly influential in demonstrating how awareness of the increasingly hazardous, but also unpredictable, nature of technological advancement is serving to define the social condition, at least in the western world. Beck’s conception of the ‘Risk Society’ has since been joined by numerous other sociological analyses that have explored the way risk is addressed in various settings. The relationship between risk and organizations has been found to be significantly complex. Risk may not be ‘clearly identifiable and manageable, but emerges and is constructed from complex but fractured processes of organizational attention involving information systems, incentive structures and narratives of explanation which are the source of further uncertainties’ (Scheytt et al., 2006, p.1333). Related studies have described how ‘risks’ are rendered as ‘decidable’ by societies (ibid.); ‘how one views risk determines how one assesses it’ (Corvellec, 2010, p.145, emphasis added). Hutter and...

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