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Title: Zoonosis and the social attribution of risk amplification
Author: Duckett, Dominic
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 920X
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2010
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Certain risks are held to attract an unwarranted level of socio-political attention. Claims about risks being 'blown out of proportion' are commonplace both in the media and as popularly held opinions. The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) interprets this phenomenon in terms of amplifications and attenuations and it forms the predominant organizing principle for risk studies that conceptualize this phenomenon. Despite considerable success, SARF has been criticized for implying an objective level of risk, somehow aligned to technical assessment, against which social reaction can be said to be disproportionate. This problematic alignment has been rejected as positivistic and a reification of risk. Critics further identify inescapable pejorative connotations that amplification equates to error. However while existing critiques are intellectually compelling, they do not offer useful solutions, and social amplification remains a topic of interest to policy makers and other stakeholders. This thesis builds upon SARF by looking directly at the way particular levels of socio- political attention are represented and accounted for using a qualitative research program incorporating focus groups and in depth interviews. Purposively sampled stakeholders were invited to explore their understandings of social amplification. The aim is to re- evaluate social amplification as a construction of stakeholders. People were asked about social amplification in relation to zoonotic disease risks. Zoonoses are diseases that cross the species barrier from animals to humans. Examples include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a cattle disease that crossed the species barrier to cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HP AI). Both have had high profiles in UK media headlines and health policy agendas in recent years and are firmly established as amongst society's most important risk objects. An intersubjective theory of social amplification has been developed to extend SARF. Ideas are presented making the case that amplification labels are attributive social constructions and not objective features of the world. A novel theory 'The Social Attribution of Risk Amplification' (SARA) is presented addressing the key 'reification' criticism ofSARF.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available