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.


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:

15 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

2,874 since deposited on 09 Dec 2004
196 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 606
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
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 00:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:44

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page