The Construction of Risk: 9/11 Terrorist Attack and the Response to It

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The Construction of Risk: 9/11 Terrorist Attack and the Response to It On the 11th of September 2001 terrorists carried out suicide attacks on American soil. They killed over 3,000 people and shocked the world as people never really thought of the magnitude of the attacks and in particular the location of the attack, America where risk is calculated and anticipated. These events shed a light of a debate whether risk is an objective phenomenon whose probability can always be calculated, or it is subjective/dynamic phenomenon which is constantly constructed and negotiated. To date there has been a contestation around risk approach. One approach is so called realism. The exponents of realism propose that risk is the outcome of probability and consequences of an unfavourable event (Bradbury, 1989). They see risk as an objective phenomenon that can be measured separately from cultural and social processes (Renn, 1992a). Because they view risk as an objective phenomenon, they argue that the perceptions of risk among individuals should be similar. Employing a standpoint of cognitive science, this approach has been widely used in dealing with risk in the areas of engineering, statistics, psychology, epidemiology and economics. It presents the conception of hazard with calculation of probability (Lupton, 1999). The other approach, namely constructivism, provides a critique for realism by highlighting realism tendency to reduce the meanings and behaviours linked to risk perception and assessment to the individualistic level. In general, cognitive science ignores the symbolic meanings that humans give to objects and events. Lupton makes this clear by saying that perception in realism is restricted only to the way people see and comprehen... ... middle of paper ... ...undation Douglas, M. and Wildavsky, A. (1982) Risk and Culture: an Essay on the Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Ewald F, 2002, “The return of Descartes' malicious demon: an outline of a philosophy of precaution'', in Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility Eds T Baker, J Simon (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL) pp 273 - 302 Lupton, D. (1999), Risk and sociocultural theory: new directions and perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Massumi B, 2007, ``Potential politics and the primacy of preemption'' Theory and Event 10(2) Renn, O. (1992a), “ Concepts of Risk: A Classification ” in “Social Theories of Risk ’’, (eds) Krimsky, S. & Golding, D. London; Praeger Publishers, 53 – 83. Richardson L, 2000 What TerroristsWant (Random House, New York)
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