The Challenges of Emergency Risk Regulation
Edited by Alberto Alemanno
Chapter 15: The Fallout from the Fallout: Hazards, Risks and Organizational Learning
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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