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Approaches to Community Safety: Risk perception and social meaning

Barnes, Paul H. (2002) Approaches to Community Safety: Risk perception and social meaning. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 1(No. 1), pp. 15-23.

Abstract

This paper has examines an important factor that can both enhance and detract from promoting community safety - the distance between the beneficiaries of regulation and regulatory institutions. This chasm of distrust and disbelief is one of the most significant problems relating the regulation of potential health impacts from industrial technology in recent times and in a broader sense, community safety. Community interest in safety may be driven by a belief that modern life is riskier than in the past. Issues such as pollution from industry, food safety, contamination of water supplies or air pollution are often cited as contributing not only to an increase in the likelihood of harm and disease in society, but as symbols of the increasing hazardousness of the modern world.

The establishment of safer communities however, is a different matter. To do this, institutional regulators must ensure that use of their expertise does not promote inflexibility in understanding the needs and world-views of the public. A core requirement would seem to be an understanding that becoming better safety regulators, from a technical perspective, is not enough and is unlikely to return significant improvements. What must occur is a greater understanding of how ordinary people living ordinary lives make sense of, and cope with, the uncertainties inherent in the modern world. If both safety regulation and enhanced understanding can be achieved the result is a reduced likelihood of harm, and an improved capacity to support real and sustained community recovery when chaos emerges from normality.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 606
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Risk perception, social meaning of danger and risk, community safety
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Applied Sociology Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment (160801)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 (Please consult author)
Copyright Statement: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see hypertext link).
Deposited On: 09 Dec 2004
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 19:44

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