Book

Anxiety in a Risk Society

Authors:
... It is not only Glassner (1999) and who describe our society as preoccupied by paralyzing fears of different risks. Wilkinson (2001) claims that it is almost a matter of sociological common sense that we today live in a society bordering on a state of panic. Lupton (1999), in a survey of the sociological risk literature, argues that being risk conscious is seen by many as being anxious and insecure. ...
... One problematic aspect is that empirical studies that support these claims about a linkage between risk consciousness and a "culture of fear" are largely lacking. Just because media reports about a lot of different risks we can not take that as evidence of people taking notice of these risks, and even less that they become anxious about them (Höijer & Rasmussen, 2005;Wilkinson, 1999Wilkinson, , 2001. Research in media and communication studies has shown that public reception of media reports is a very complex phenomenon where people are not just victims of whatever is broadcasted, but interpret and make meaning of these messages in relation to their own frames of reference and experiences (Höijer, 2004). ...
... Additionally, empirical studies have shown that there is no simple relation between media's risk messages and risk consciousness among the public (Kasperson et al., 1988;Kasperson & Kasperson, 1996), and that risk perception and fear or worry about risks are not synonymous concepts (Sjöberg, 1998(Sjöberg, , 2003. Wilkinson (2001) argues that one major weakness of this account of the culture of fear is that apart from pointing at the irrationality of these feelings there are no thorough theoretical or empirical explorations of the emotional concepts in focus, e.g. fear, anxiety, and worry. ...
Book
Full-text available
This dissertation explores young people’s engagement concerning global environmental problems. To be able to reverse these problems, it is vital to involve the public in the strivings for a sustainable society. However, environmental problems are complex, imbued with uncertainties and ambivalence. Furthermore, learning about global environmental threats can trigger unpleasant emotions. Some social theorists even claim that we live in a “culture of fear” where people’s worries about different risks are related to a low degree of social trust, low well-being, and egocentrism. Therefore, the first aim was to take a critical approach to the view of emotions, and worry in particular, as being solely negative, or even irrational, states. First, a review of emotion theories focused on the constructive role of emotions. Second, self-report studies were conducted with two groups of young people. Worry about environmental problems was positively associated with other-oriented values of both an altruistic and biospheric kind, and with trust in one’s own and other actors’ ability to contribute to the solution of the problems. The young women worried more than the men. This was explained by the fact that they embraced altruistic values to a higher degree. Environmental worry, hence, was not the same as a low degree of trust, but seemed to be a moral emotion. The second aim was to identify factors that can help young people deal constructively with their worry. In a group of late adolescents, environmental worry was negatively related to subjective well-being at a population level. However, there existed subgroups of young people who were highly worried: one high and one low on well-being. The first group experienced more existential meaning, as well as anger, hope, and trust concerning the environmental problems than the second group. Thereafter, interviews were performed with a group of young volunteers. They perceived their environmental worry both as a constructive force motivating behavior, and, when connected with feelings of guilt and helplessness, as related to psychological struggle. Sources of hope were pinpointed. These consisted of cognitive restructuring, trust in different societal actors, and trust in the efficacy of pro-environmental behavior at an individual level. Furthermore, the collective engagement worked as a coping strategy activating positive emotions. The third aim was to explore how ambivalence at a macro and micro-level is related to recycling. In a group of young adults, mixed negative (worry) and positive (hope and joy) emotions about the environmental problems were positively related to recycling. Ambivalent attitudes about recycling, on the contrary, were negatively related to behavior. Interviews revealed that the ambivalence at a macro level was associated with an ability to face the ambiguities of environmental problems. The ambivalent attitudes seemed to be signs of an inability to perceive a clear connection between behavior in everyday life and the environmental problems, and to integrate ideals about living in an environmentally friendly way with the everyday life of young adulthood. The dissertation concludes by pleading for more holistic methodological approaches when it comes to exploring attitudes and emotions concerning the environmental issue. Future studies should avoid looking at worry about societal problems in isolation. Negative and positive emotions are not bipolar. Young people who are highly worried can also experience positive emotions to a high degree, which seems to have a positive impact on both well-being and behavior.
... Influential "risk society" scholars (Beck 1992;Giddens 1990) have emphasized the structural and institutional nature of risk, theorizing impending and high-consequence hazards induced by modernization and economic growth that can affect large numbers of people, including the "normal accidents" that are consequences of new industries (Perrow 1999;Tierney 2014). Other research examines how inequalities matter for the experiences of groups with higher levels of risk exposure or vulnerability (Dake 1992;Wilkinson 2001). For example, environmental sociologists have shown that impoverished communities see disproportionately high rates of harm from institutional sources like petrochemical waste and energy production (Auyero and Swistun 2009;Cable, Shriver, and Mix 2008). ...
... In this view, the world has not necessarily become more hazardous (although some argue it has). Instead, people have become more cynical, suspicious, and distrustful of mainstream experts and scientific institutions (Eyal 2019;Giddens 1990;Wilkinson 2001), and they express desire for public accountability for institutional malfeasance, discrimination, and carelessness (Benz 2017). ...
Article
This article examines perceptions of health risk when some individuals within a shared space are in heightened danger but anyone, including unaffected others, can be a vector of risk. Using the case of peanut allergy and drawing on qualitative content analysis of the public comments submitted in response to an unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation proposal to prohibit peanuts on airplanes, we analyze contention over the boundaries of responsibility for mitigating exposure to risk. We find three key dimensions of proximity to risk (material, social, and situational) characterizing ardent claims both for and against policy enactment. These proximity concerns underlay commenters’ sensemaking about fear, trust, rights, moral obligations, and liberty in the act of sharing space with others, while allowing them to stake positions on what we call “responsible sociality”—an ethic of discernible empathy for proximate others and of consideration for public benefit in social and communal settings. We conclude by discussing the insights our case affords several other areas of scholarship attentive to the intractable yet timely question of “for whom do we care?”
... Beck, 1992;Ungar, 2001). In addition, anxiety is an occasional experience that is common to all and one that should be understood as a product of social processes (Wilkinson, 2001). ...
... From this perspective, anxiety is related to position or location within the structure of society together with levels of commitment toward predominant cultural values (Wilkinson, 2001). As the ecological approach suggests, observable variations in human attitudes and behaviors across areas can be explained by distinctions of compositional and contextual characteristics (Macintyre & Ellaway, 2000). ...
Article
Full-text available
Anxiety is a pervasive emotional state that tends to arise in situations involving uncertainty due partly to social and contextual issues including competition, economic disparity, and social insecurity. Thus, distribution of aggregate emotions, such as in anxiety, may reveal an important picture of otherwise invisible social processes in which individuals interact with local and global opportunities , constraints, and potential threats. The aim of this study is to present a computational approach to the dynamic distribution of anxiety extracted from natural language expressions of users of Twitter, a popular global social media platform. We develop an unsupervised machine learning procedure based on a naive Bayes model to classify contents of anxiety, estimate the degree of anxiety, and construct a geographic map of spatiotemporal distribution of anxiety. To validate our mapping results, a multilevel statistical analysis was performed to examine how anxiety distribution is correlated with other district-level sociodemographic statistics such as rates of birth and early divorce. Implications for further research and extension are discussed.
... Modern society is perceived as an environment in which individuals are 'projects' that reflect society (Giddens, 2008). Wilkinson (2001) considers the society of late modernity a risk society where the indicators of anxiety are high because social actors are more risk conscious. According to Giddens (1991) abstract systems of modernity increasingly make us aware to accept that our life course is unpredictable and is under accidental influences. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The main purpose of this study is to describe and identify the general anxiety level and the influence of socio-demographic characteristics on anxiety among students during online learning because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is a quantitative non-experimental study. The instrument used in the study is the questionnaire Beck Anxiety Inventory. The results showed that during remote learning students experienced moderate anxiety levels. In addition, the results indicated that the variables of gender and educational profile had a significant impact on the anxiety levels experienced by students. In the light of study findings, we recommend the following: the need to conduct further systematic research on factors that influence the preparedness and performance of students during online learning; develop pilot studies on online learning that are not related to the pandemic context, structures of specialised training with regard to anxiety management techniques and the factors that encourage it. Keywords: Anxiety, distance learning, pandemic, socio-demographic variables, student.
... Anxiety is conceptualized as a multi-system response to perceived risks, experienced as a feeling of unease, worry, or fear (Wilkinson 2001). Experiencing occasional anxiety about a situation is a normal part of life. ...
Preprint
COVID-19 poses disproportionate mental health consequences to the public during different phases of the pandemic. We use a computational approach to capture the specific aspects that trigger an online community's anxiety about the pandemic and investigate how these aspects change over time. First, we identified nine subjects of anxiety (SOAs) in a sample of Reddit posts ($N$=86) from r/COVID19\_support using thematic analysis. Then, we quantified Reddit users' anxiety by training algorithms on a manually annotated sample ($N$=793) to automatically label the SOAs in a larger chronological sample ($N$=6,535). The nine SOAs align with items in various recently developed pandemic anxiety measurement scales. We observed that Reddit users' concerns about health risks remained high in the first eight months of the pandemic. These concerns diminished dramatically despite the surge of cases occurring later. In general, users' language disclosing the SOAs became less intense as the pandemic progressed. However, worries about mental health and the future increased steadily throughout the period covered in this study. People also tended to use more intense language to describe mental health concerns than health risks or death concerns. Our results suggest that this online group's mental health condition does not necessarily improve despite COVID-19 gradually weakening as a health threat due to appropriate countermeasures. Our system lays the groundwork for population health and epidemiology scholars to examine aspects that provoke pandemic anxiety in a timely fashion.
... Despite being formulated in the 1980s, the 'inconvenient truths' posed by Beck's theory continue to be exemplified by environmental phenomenon, not least of which are genetic modification and global warming. Although criticised by some for its apocalyptic overtones (Wilkinson, 2001), the relevance of Beck's theory cannot be discounted as environmental crises become increasingly common, less predictable and consequently more difficult to manage. The result is an emphatic shift in the dual character of risk from "impassive, formal and calculating" to "full of human hopes and fears" (Blastland and Spiegelhalter, 2013). ...
Article
1. Introduction At the core of EA is a belief that science and expert knowledge can be relied upon to predict and measure the impacts of a policy, plan or proposal as an aid to decision-making. However, times have changed since the inception of EA and future development can no longer “be anticipated and planned for, under relatively static conditions” (Retief et al., 2016:52). Some commentators refer to an escalation in “risks” (Canter, 1993; Corvellec and Boholm, 2008; Larsen, 2017; Weston, 2004). Others prefer the term “uncertainty”, inferring that risk is too circumscribed to encompass the values and beliefs that affect EA in complex and ambiguous circumstances (Bond et al., 2015; Duncan, 2013; Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1994; Stirling, 2010). In this paper we propose that the problem does not lie with the term itself but with the way risk has been framed in the context of EA, by experts, practitioners and authorities. Our premise is that techno-scientific risk definitions have been sanctioned at the expense of broader, nuanced interpretations. In re-dress of this situation, we offer a selection of social risk theories and explain their relevance to EA, citing examples mainly from South Africa (SA) where several controversial EAs, particularly in the energy sector, have elucidated competing constructions of risk. The usefulness of the this perspective is enhanced by the contrast between features of SA's formal classification by the World Bank as an upper middle-income economy, whilst still displaying social characteristics typical of a lower to middle income country (LIC/ LMIC). Drawing from our experience of this context we aim to explore how multi-dimensional interpretations of risk can enrich the practice of EA beyond familiar constraints, rooted in the rational precepts of planning theory (see Byambaa and de Vries, 2019; Morgan, 2012; Richardson, 2005; Weston, 2011). We begin with brief reflection on the dominant interpretation of risk for EA, as shaped by techno-scientific approaches to risk analysis. This is followed by a description of three alternative theories of risk, linked by an increasingly overt constructivist epistemology. These include, firstly, the theory of a risk society borne out of the industrial era (Beck, 1992; Beck et al., 1994); second is the psychological theory in which risk is explained as a preference, governed by individual perception (Slovic, 1987; Starr, 1969); and third, cultural theory for which risk is viewed as a construct, determined by structural social institutions (Douglas, 1986; Douglas and Wildavsky, 1983). To conclude we consider the merits of discourse as a vehicle for appropriating risk, to serve the interests of participants in the EA process.
... However, with the weakening of various norms, people are forced to manage various uncertainties and risks by themselves [35]. In such uncertain social contexts, people experience various anxieties in their lives [36]. With regard to the relationship between health and uncertainty in society, previous researches have reported that uncertain social contexts, such as social inequality, economic recession, and ageing population are harmful to health [37][38][39]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: While traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) is gaining increased interest worldwide, the structural factors associated with the usage of TCAM at the social level have not been sufficiently explored. We aim to understand the social structure of uncertainty in society that affects the TCAM usage for men and women. Methods: We studied 32 countries using data from the International Social Survey Programme and the World Bank. In this study, we defined TCAM usage as visits to an alternative/traditional/folk health care practitioner during the past 12 months. We performed a correlation analysis and used a generalized linear model . Results: The prevalence of TCAM usage in terms of visits to practitioners was 26.1% globally, while usage varied across the 32 countries. Generalized linear models showed that unemployment rate was associated with the prevalence of TCAM usage in terms of visits to practitioners. Conclusions: At the social-structural level TCAM usage involving visits to practitioners was related to job insecurity. Job insecurity led to a decrease in TCAM usage regarding visits to practitioners. These findings suggest that it is necessary to consider the social-structural factors of uncertainty in society when designing health policies related to TCAM.
... Stress is the psychological and physiological response to undesirable experiences generally termed as stressors [1]. Though "stress" is more commonly thought of as harmful, responses to stress are a spectrum that stretch from the less discussed "eustress" -where positive responses such as innovation and improved productivity result, to "distress" -which is associated in varying degrees to the better known negative outcomes of stress [2]. An individual's stress threshold is influenced by the source of stress, their personal characteristics, experiences, and coping skills [3]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Occupational stress is a recognized health problem among nurses. Globally, its prevalence varies between 9.2% and 68.0%. It detracts from nurses' quality of life and efficiency of job performance. In Ghana, we do not know the important contributory factors to this problem. Our study sought to identify the important predictors of occupational stress among nurses. Methods: In January 2016, we conducted an institutional-based survey among nurses of Salaga Government Hospital. They completed a five-point Likert type questionnaire adopted from the British Psychological Working Conditions Survey, and the Nurse Stress Index. Across 30 predictor variables, a mean score of 4.00 to 5.00 represented high to extreme occupational stress. We performed bivariate and multivariate analyses to identify important predictors of occupational stress at 95% confidence level. Results: Of 167 nurses, 58.1% (97) were females. Respondents who experienced high to extreme stress levels had a 2.3 times odds of reporting sickness absence (CI: 1.03-5.14). Sources of occupational stress included: manual lifting of patients and pieces of equipment (OR: 16.23; CI: 6.28 - 41.92), the risks of acquiring infections (OR: 14.67; CI 5.90 - 36.46), receiving feedback only upon unsatisfactory performance (OR: 28.00; CI: 9.72 - 80.64), and inadequate opportunities for continuous professional development (OR: 63.50; CI: 19.99 - 201.75). Conclusion: The working conditions of nurses were stressful. The most significant predictors of occupational stress were poor supportive supervision by superiors, lack of adequate skills to perform routine tasks, uncertainty about their job role, and the lack of adequate opportunities for career advancements.
... Risk does not just define child protection work in isolation. It is in fact an increasingly defining motif of the social life of Western countries in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries (Beck, 1992;Giddens, 1994;Wilkinson, 2001). The problem in all this is that risk is almost always constructed in the negative. ...
... " Thus, the abduction of a child from a resort in Portugal heightens the fears of parents in Canada or Australia, with those fears heightened further by extensive media coverage of the resulting shock and grief that extends beyond local communities and beyond national borders. Commentators (Lupton 2013; Tulloch and Lupton 2003; Wilkinson 2001) of the uncertainty that characterizes contemporary risk societies argue that the rapid and wide-ranging changes that have occurred since the middle of the twentieth century have brought a sense of distrust in social institutions and traditional authorities. Adults are no longer constructed as a source of unquestioned authority but as potentially risky. ...
Chapter
The safety of children in public spaces has long been an issue of public and policy concern. Since the 1990s, however, anxiety about children’s safety has reached unprecedented levels in wealthy countries. Concerns about the dangers presented to children in public spaces, particularly from traffic and strangers, have resulted in children’s independent movement within their communities being severely limited. This chapter examines the literature around both parent’s and children’s concerns about safety, exploring how the concept of risk society provides a framework for understanding safety concerns. It argues that a child standpoint offers a means of reshaping the debate around risk and children’s safety in communities, by first illuminating generationally based hierarchies and second bringing children’s own perspectives to the fore. Keywords Safety Stranger danger Traffic Public spaces Community Child standpoint
Chapter
The major premise of this chapter is that human factor considerations are critical operational ecosystems, as apart from human‒machine interactions, organizational factors play a major role in achieving organizational safety goals and targets. Most of the existing human reliability modeling procedures have a major focus on cognitive modeling, while direct references to deeper aspects of consciousness are either superficial or not present. In the risk-conscious operations management (RCOM) approach, there is a special consideration for the development of a human model as well as the consideration of consciousness and conscience along with cognition. The premise of risk-conscious culture is that consciousness-associated deeper aspects and their attributes are critical to general human behavior that might lead to random (unintended) human error to address safety implications, while the conscience attribute provides an effective mechanism for intended or deliberate human failures that have security implications.
Article
Full-text available
The mental suffering/disorder has the potential to affect any person because living in collectivity results in iniquities that can act over the well-being. Being the university a space that composes the routine of people in this condition, it is necessary to analyze phenomena that can determine its organization such as health and social inequality. In this context, this study analyzes mental health and the intersection of axes of oppression. It is a quantitative and qualitative study using interview techniques and document analysis. From 217 students, 43 were excluded by incomplete/inaccessible documentation. To the interview it was considered students that declared to live under inequalities and of 12 invited, seven participated. The results indicate the intersectionality as an adequate tool to qualify the analysis of students’ reality living mental suffering/disorder. Emphasis was placed on gender bias, affective-sexual orientation, poverty, color and stigma about mental health.
Article
Full-text available
O sofrimento/transtorno mental tem potencial para afetar qualquer pessoa, visto que viver em coletividade produz iniquidades que podem atuar sobre o bem-estar. Sendo que a universidade integra a rotina de pessoas nessa condição, torna-se necessário analisar fenômenos que podem determinar sua organização, como a saúde e as desigualdades sociais. Nesse contexto, este estudo realiza uma análise entre saúde mental e a intersecção de eixos de opressão. Trata-se de estudo quantitativo e qualitativo com técnicas de entrevista e análise documental. Do total de 217 estudantes, foram excluídos 43 por documentação incompleta ou inacessível. Para as entrevistas, consideraram-se estudantes que declaram viver sob desigualdades. De 12 convidados, sete participaram das entrevistas. Os resultados apontam a interseccionalidade como ferramenta adequada para qualificar a análise da realidade de estudantes que vivenciam sofrimento/transtorno mental. Destacaram-se questões de gênero, orientação afetivo-sexual, pobreza, cor e estigmas sobre saúde mental.
Chapter
Full-text available
Cornerstones of Attachment Research re-examines the work of key laboratories that have contributed to the study of attachment. In doing so, the book traces the development in a single scientific paradigm through parallel but separate lines of inquiry. Chapters address the work of Bowlby, Ainsworth, Main and Hesse, Sroufe and Egeland, and Shaver and Mikulincer. Cornerstones of Attachment Research utilises attention to these five research groups as a lens on wider themes and challenges faced by attachment research over the decades. The chapters draw on a complete analysis of published scholarly and popular works by each research group, as well as much unpublished material.
Article
Full-text available
This article critically addresses the contemporary study of what is called 'defensive emotions' such as fear and nostalgia among a number of social theorists. While it may be true that the collective emotions of fear and nostalgia (here framed by the phrase of 'retrotopia') may indeed be on the rise in Western liberal democracies, it is also important to be wary of taking the literature on the matter as a sign that fear and nostalgia actually permeate all levels of culture and everyday life. The article starts out with some reflections on the sociology of emotions and shows how the early interest in emotions (theoretical and empirical) among a small group of sociologists is today supplemented with the rise of a critical social theory using collective emotions as a lens for conducting a critical analysis of the times. Then the article in turn deals with the contemporary interest within varuious quarters of the social sciences with describing, analysing and diagnosing the rise of what is here called 'defensive emotions' – emotions that express and symbolize a society under attack and emotions that are mostly interpreted as negative signs of the times. This is followed by some reflections on the collective emotions of fear and nostalgia/retrotopia respectively. The article is concluded with a discussion of how we may understand and assess this relatively new interest in defensive emotions.
Article
Full-text available
Актуальность. В 1903 г. Ф.У. Тейлор писал, что причиной низкой производительности труда являются мысли и рассуждения, обусловленные общественными отношениями между предпринимателями и рабочими, и считал, что при условии их сотрудничества, взаимной помощи производительность последних может быть увеличена в среднем почти вдвое [1]. Проблема, сформулированная Ф.У. Тейлором, и поставленный им вопрос «Какие иные реформы… могут дать столько в направлении повышения благосостояния, уменьшения нищеты и облегчения страданий?» уже более ста лет оказывают мощное влияние на содержание исследовательских программ в области менеджмента. Однако многие из намеченных Ф.У. Тейлором задач все еще далеки от своего решения. Период социально-экономической нестабильности, вновь переживаемый страной в настоящее время, усиливает потребность в инструментах, активизирующих способность и готовность сотрудников выполнять возложенные на них задачи в условиях динамично изменяющейся внешней и внутренней среды. Цель исследования: проанализировать изменение представлений о роли социальности в системе знаний, требующее формирования новых подходов в управлении человеческими ресурсами. Методы: сравнение, обобщение и систематизация, в работе также используется аксиологический подход, предполагающий ценностное измерение исследуемых социокультурных явлений. Результаты: представлена система аргументов, свидетельствующих об усилении роли доверия как в организации общественной жизни в целом, так и в деятельности организации в частности. Показано, что «доверие» способствует упорядочению социальных взаимодействий в условиях трансформационных изменений (нарастания неопределенности и рисков в деятельности компании), когда снижаются возможности «уверенности» и «веры» как механизмов организации социальной жизни. Возрастанию роли фактора «доверие» также способствуют разделение труда, делегирование полномочий, сложность и «непрозрачность» организационных и технических систем. Вывод: более существенную роль начинает играть фактор «доверие» в функционировании системы управления организацией. .
Article
This article is based on the keynote address I delivered in June 2019 at the Central and Eastern European International Studies Association (CEEISA) conference in Belgrade. Drawing on existentialist thought, I first discuss the distinction between anxiety and fear and the relevance of this distinction for international relations (IR) theory. Then, building on the Heideggerian notion of mood and its recent applications to IR by Erik Ringmar (2017, 2018), I argue that anxiety impacts international relations as a public mood—‘a collective way of being attuned to the world’. Connecting existentialist thought on anxiety with contemporary IR and political science research on securitisation and populism, I discuss how, in periods and contexts where we are collectively attuned to the world in anxiety, the resonance of securitisation and the appeal of nativist and populist doctrines that offer ideological and moral certainty are enhanced.
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Trinidad, this paper examines how the framing of a particular apocalyptic future provided a moral commentary and model for wellbeing in contemporary everyday life. Changing social, political, and economic circumstances and relations had brought a range of new risks and anxieties into daily life. These more recent problems originating from beyond the village (such as climate change, criminality, inequality, pollution, neglect by the State) could not be resolved through working with obeah spirits as might have been used previously for more local issues, or through the long-established Catholic and Anglican churches. Instead evangelical Christian cosmology and practices gave a means of making sense of such issues and for protecting oneself. The development of a strong individual relationship with God connected individuals to a greater power and a global community, framing such problems not only as the work of the Devil but as evidence of the coming of the End of Days. Political protest or attempts at wider change were futile therefore; individuals should focus on their own practices to develop a strong relationship with God. Health and wellbeing relied on an individualised and deep relationship with the Holy Spirit. This was developed through practices that both drew on, and helped create, a type of neoliberal logic and global subjectivity to understand and live within current times, evangelical Christianity promoting ways of living without anxiety in the present through understandings of an apocalyptic future.
Article
Affect has not been entirely established as a casual explanation in social science. The classic academic accounts of millennial movements emphasise both a period of 'unease' in the ambient atmosphere or 'of tension' at the actual start, and then a periodic culmination of fear or extreme emotion as the movement gains a following and the prophecy accelerates so much so, that 'apocalyptic expectation' equates with 'anxiety'. In the instance examined here, a new Caribbean religion, there may well have been identified anxieties around the time of the founder's visions, but once established the group have little strong emotion, negative or otherwise, although always facing the imminent end of all things.
Article
Full-text available
Background Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns today. While numerous factors are known to affect anxiety disorders, the ways in which environmental factors aggravate or mitigate anxiety are not fully understood. Methods Baidu is the most widely used search engine in China, and a large amount of data on internet behavior indicates that anxiety is a growing concern. We reviewed the annual Baidu Indices of anxiety-related keywords for cities in China from 2013 to 2018 and constructed anxiety indices. We then employed a two-way fixed effect (FE) model to analyze the relationship between PM2.5 exposure and anxiety at the prefectural level. Results The results indicated that there was a significant positive association between PM2.5 and anxiety index. The anxiety index increased by 0.1565258 for every unit increase in the PM2.5 level (P < 0.05), which suggested that current PM2.5 levels in China pose a considerable risk to mental health. Conclusion The enormous impact of PM2.5 exposure indicates that the macroscopic environment can shape individual mentality and social behavior, and that it can be extremely destructive in terms of societal mindset.
Article
Full-text available
Infectious diseases pose a serious threat to humans. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how accurately people perceive these risks. However, accuracy can be operationalized differently depending on the standard of comparison. The present study investigated accuracy in risk perceptions for three infectious diseases (avian influenza, seasonal influenza, common cold) using three different standards for accuracy: Social comparison (self vs. others' risk perceptions), general problem level (risk perceptions for diseases with varying threat levels), and dynamic problem level (risk perceptions during epidemics/seasons vs. nonepidemic/off-season times). Four online surveys were conducted using a repeated cross-sectional design. Two surveys were conducted during epidemics/seasons of avian influenza, seasonal influenza, and common cold in 2006 (n = 387) and 2016 (n = 370) and two surveys during nonepidemic/off-season times for the three diseases in 2009 (n = 792) during a swine flu outbreak and in 2018 (n = 422) during no outbreak of zoonotic influenza. While on average participants felt less at risk than others, indicating an optimistic bias, risk perceptions matched the magnitude of risk associated with the three infectious diseases. Importantly, a significant three-way interaction indicated dynamic accuracy in risk perceptions: Participants felt more at risk for seasonal influenza and common cold during influenza and cold seasons, compared with off-season times. However, these dynamic increases were more pronounced in the perceived risk for others than for oneself (optimistic bias). The results emphasize the importance of using multiple approaches to assess accuracy of risk perception as they provided different information on how accurately people gauge their risk when facing infectious diseases.
Article
Full-text available
While knowledge about the ecological crisis is increasingly detailed, ecologists are anxious, saddened by the destruction of natural areas, and powerless in the face of a future that they cannot control and which makes them fearful of serious tragedies ahead. At the crossroads of the sociology of affects and emotions, the sociology of science and the sociology of mobilisations, the article studies the scientists who have worked on the concepts of ecosystem services and ecological offsetting. It shows that these ecologists, as well as their colleagues who study the protection of nature, experience ecological anxiety in different ways and that they develop various strategies to manage this anxiety. An operational definition of ecological anxiety, as well as a methodology for analysing its expression and its management, are presented to this end. Drawing on the notion of epistemic commitment, the article proposes to conceive of knowledge production as an ethical and political commitment, and documents how scientists’ work enables them (or not) to respond to the unpleasant experience of anxiety. According to their epistemic commitments, the scientists involved in the situations investigated can thus : i) put their ecological anxiety into perspective by emphasising the dynamism of ecosystems; ii) convert their ecological anxiety into a hope of reconciling economy and ecology; iii) share and express their anxiety through awareness-raising schemes. The adoption of these strategies reflects the affinity of scientists for specific nature conservation policies.
Article
This paper critically examines the case of the much-vaunted Singapore “model” and its export via the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC), a megaproject jointly developed by the Singaporean and Chinese states in northeastern China. It revolves around the central question of why, for some Singaporean officials, this export was thought to have “failed” in spite of the model’s acclaimed success globally. To address this, the paper historicizes the Singapore model, tracing undercurrents of (geo)political existentialism through Singaporean state meta-narratives that are enacted through thehistorical politics of anxiety and the practitioner politics of anxiety. It argues that categories of policy “success” and “failure” are relationally co-produced through a politics of anxiety, wherein their stakes are amplified in ways distinctive to small postcolonial city-states. Collectively, the paper emphasizes the enduring significance of (inter)state actors and structures for transnational urban policy mobilization and the limits to assumptions of post-failure policy learning.
Chapter
The news was at its most tendentious when engaging with the risk that the murder posed for civil society. Ultimately, the press worked to assuage the fears of insecurity of the middle classes and to encourage the authorities to put measures in place that would protect them on trains. Whereas the middle-class interest in the murder was seen as reasonable, the lower-class interest was seen as a testimony to their mob-like, criminal and mawkish nature which, combined, formed a serious threat to Victorian civil society. Overall, the press emphasised that it should be left to the legitimate authorities to enhance personal security and to minimise the social level of risk.
Chapter
This chapter introduces a number of fundamental distinctions underpinned by a body of qualitative research. Most basically it distinguishes risk-taking rationales, agency, and dimensions. These differ systematically when people take risks as an end it itself, as a means to an end or as a response to vulnerability. It continues with exploring the time dimension in risk-taking distinguishing the influence of learning and routinisation but also the institutional normalisation of risk-taking. Furthermore, it discusses how identity work is involved in risk-taking and highlights how risk-taking is embedded in social interaction in a social milieu, everyday practices or virtual world before concluding with the role of reflexivity in risk-taking.
Chapter
Risk-taking implies uncertainty and possibly disastrous outcomes. This chapter explores the different ways how people manage such uncertainties when taking risks. Following a modernist world view, it starts with distinguishing instrumental rationality from so-called non-rational strategies such as hope, ideology and faith and shows that both are efficient ways to manage uncertainty. Furthermore, it introduced the notion of in-between strategies such as trust, intuition and emotions and discusses their value in everyday risk-taking. The chapter concludes that in everyday life, all these strategies combine in complex ways in reasonable ways of risk-taking.
Chapter
The second chapter addresses the transformation of practices of social ordering in the early modern period. Drawing on the work of Bauman and Beier, it traces the breakdown of feudal patriarchy and the presumption that order would be secured by male heads of households, who held authority over their dependents and subordinates, such as servants and apprentices. The emergence of large numbers of ‘masterless men’ and women challenged this principle simply by being outside the ties of the manor or the household. These ‘vagrants’ and ‘vagabonds’ were seen as a threat to the hierarchical principle that underpinned the whole social order, and a range of new surveillance and disciplinary mechanisms were developed to govern this independent, mobile population. The development of security specialists and houses of correction, most notably Bridewell, are located in relation to the ideas of ‘reformation’ and social disciplining addressed in the work of Gorski and Oestreich.
Chapter
The twentieth century saw a renewed attack on patriarchal protection from a number of angles. Most important of these was feminism, which challenged the idea that men protected women, pointing out that much male control constituted violence and terrorisation. The women’s movement led to the creation of women police, which challenged police masculinity, and women’s self-defence, which liberated women from male protection. Other challenges came from the partial withdrawal of the police from the streets due to new telephone and motor technologies, from wider countercultural attitudes to authority and loss of confidence amongst the authorities themselves, from rapidly rising crime rates, the emergence of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and situational crime prevention, and commercial security technologies and organisations. A political programme of responsibilisation created space for new entrepreneurs and forms of expertise to emerge, and the chapter analyses examples from the fields of self-defence and self-protection.
Article
Full-text available
The first broad reform of personal data protection legislation in the European Union entered into force in May 2018 (Regulation (EU) 2016/ 679, the General Data Protection Regulation). Remarkably, with this reform a risk-based approach has been introduced as the core data protection enforcement model, while data protection authorities see their regulatory role significantly weakened. The risk-based approach is to be implemented by the data controllers (i.e. the operators) via data protection impact assessments (evoking the established environmental impact assessment procedure) and notification of breaches, among other procedures. Hence the scope of both the concepts of risk and risk regulation spread beyond conventional domains, namely the environment, public health or safety, i.e. physical risks, to encompass risks to intangible values, i.e. individual rights and freedoms, presumably harder to assess and manage. Strikingly, the reform has been accompanied by a confident discourse by EU institutions, and their avowed belief in the reform’s ability to safeguard the fundamental right to data protection in the face of evolving data processing techniques, specifically, big data, the Internet of Things, and related algorithmic decision-making. However, one may wonder whether there isn’t cause for concern in view of the way the risk-based approach has been designed in the data protection legislation. In this article, the risk-based approach to data protection is analysed in the light of the reform’s underlying rationality. Comparison with the risk regulatory experience in environmental law, particularly the environmental impact assessment procedure, is drawn upon to assist us in pondering the shortcomings, as well as the opportunities of the novel risk-based approach.
Article
This paper investigates the repertoires teachers employ when talking about taking children outside of the classroom and keeping them safe. Research data were a series of individual and focus group interviews with primary school teachers. Three repertoires were identified: “safe practitioner,” “adventurous risk-taker” and “fun, pleasure and excitement seeker”. The main body of the paper discusses these repertoires. An interview sequence highlights repertoires ‘in action’. The paper illustrates how, according to the teachers, cautionary tales structure their safe practice in outdoor education.
Chapter
This chapter describes the process of medicalization of fear and anxiety which began in the early twentieth century and continues today. The radical biological approach to fear and anxiety promoted by contemporary psychiatry results in a fundamentalist approach to emotional disorders. Thus, committees of experts decide on new nosologies for fear and anxiety consisting of a limited set of diagnostic criteria accompanied by the design of biological models to explain their mechanism and treatment. A similar fundamentalism applies to extreme social constructionist approaches, which reduce fear and anxiety to by-products of socio-cultural forces, thereby ignoring personal attributes and the complex variability of contexts. As it is argued in this chapter, the dilemma of what counts as abnormal is not empirical but conceptual, and has not yet been satisfactorily addressed, let alone resolved. Thus, the so-called “age of anxiety” gives rise to therapeutic solutions that might better be characterised as part of ‘the age of fundamental reductionism.’
Chapter
In the winter 2015/2016 a series of storms resulted in widespread flooding in northern England, damaging hundreds of properties, disrupting transport and exposing public contempt of flood risk management. The flooding was widely covered in the media. This chapter develops a methodological framework to conceptualise factors influencing risk perception related to flood events and discusses the media’s role as communicator of climate change and related risks. We demonstrate how understanding the factors that affect risk perception, including how engineered flood defences might distort risk perception and therefore risk preparedness, can be utilised by the authorities to deploy more effective risk management policy and increase individual and community preparedness. Given that increased flood risk due to climate change is a reality, and that there is evidence that this increased risk is not yet understood by the public, nor addressed by the media, we suggest that a change is needed. Not only is there a need for more dialogue between those at risk and the flood risk management authorities and between experts and the public and the media and the public, but also a need for improved risk communication delivered with greater understanding of how at-risk communities perceive risk.
Chapter
The sociologist Iain Wilkinson’s contribution explores the precise role of ‘the social’ in the construction of fatigue syndromes, and the ways in which embodied experiences of social life may become manifest both in physical symptoms and in theoretical discourses. He argues that although there is now a renewed recognition of the social determination of our bodily and emotional health, there is still a lack of consensus on how we should practically manage and respond to illnesses shaped by social experience. Moreover, the social component of human health has become ‘ever more politically contentious’, as is particularly evident in the cases of neurasthenia and chronic fatigue syndrome. ‘The agony of “the social”’, Wilkinson writes, ‘is not only encountered in the morbid effervescence that emanates from the poor quality of peoples’ moral-social lives, it also encompasses the social as a vexed matter for debate in connection with the conditions that are most conducive to the promotion of human health.’
Chapter
This chapter explores how do the tensions between taking risk and avoiding risk play out in current sporting practices as they are immersed in the broader “risk society”, what kinds of risk literacy are being promoted in contemporary sport and what kinds of risk-sport participants are being shaped. The goal is to demonstrate both the exploitation of the sport-risk tolerance/sport-risk aversion tension for the purposes of selling particular forms of risk management and the development and promotion of a particular neurotic type of sport-risk participant who aligns his/her rights and responsibilities with commodified and commercialized forms of risk management. The chapter examines the relationship between risk and Olympic sport in two ways: first, by exploring sports medicine as a system of risk management in high-performance sport; and second, by exploring the expressions of anxiety and assurance following the death of the young luger.
Chapter
Chapter 1 introduces the main aim of the book—to understand parental anxieties about their children’s healthcare issues in urban China. It first introduces the theoretical perspectives—the concepts of risk and anxiety, the socio-cultural approach to risk, encoding/decoding and the cultural approach to health communication. Then it discusses how these theoretical perspectives jointly inform this book to examine parental anxiety based on their situated health risk experiences, looking into their interactions and engagement with various types of media. After outlining the main objectives of the research and its methodology, this chapter provides an overview of the following substantive chapters.
Chapter
Chapter 4 examines news representations of food safety incidents as another major area of parental concern. It draws on theoretical perspectives from the concept of risk and the theory of social amplification of risk to analyse news representation of the 2008 infant formula scandal, and examines the roles of the news media in shaping parental risk experiences and related anxieties. It investigates news coverage of the food scare in three popular local newspapers in Chengdu. It analyses how food safety risks are constructed by the these newspapers in relation to their intensity, severity and solution; how expert opinion based on scientific knowledge has been represented in the news; how parents and grandparents make sense of the news coverage based on their specific cultural views; and finally whether such news coverage has resulted in aggravated parental experiences of anxiety.
Chapter
Chapter 2 outlines the social background to the changing parental experiences in China, where rapid processes of modernisation and individualisation, the rising consumer society, and neoliberalism have shifted the process of childrearing towards a modern, self-managed set of practices for individual families based on economic resources. Against this background, the chapter introduces a series of interrelated socio-economic changes and population policy changes involving family planning, healthcare, and the welfare system in the past few decades; it analyses the implications of these changes for producing risk consciousness as a modern parental experience. The chapter argues that the neoliberal reform of the healthcare system, the market-oriented child healthcare industry, and lax government regulations have combined to render today’s childcare practices risk-ridden. These changes together with the wider socio-cultural changes introduced earlier provide a unique perspective from which to analyse parental anxieties as part of modern cultural experiences in China.
Chapter
Chapter 7 reviews the social conditions of parental anxiety, and critically assesses parents’ and grandparents’ overall engagement with various types of media which has engendered both empowering and disempowering experiences. It also considers whether there is an emerging ‘culture of anxiety’ among the increasingly risk-conscious parents and grandparents; and whether there is a ‘social stratification’ of anxiety based on a range of subject positions of parents and grandparents including their financial circumstances, education levels, media literacy, social capital and family support. Without supporting some kind of Chinese exceptionalism, this chapter also considers how the anxieties of parents and grandparents in China differ from those experienced elsewhere in the world, and how parental experiences of children’s healthcare with a particular reference to their engagement with the media can be considered culturally and historically specific.
Chapter
The safety of children in public spaces has long been an issue of public and policy concern. Since the 1990s, however, anxiety about children’s safety has reached unprecedented levels in wealthy countries. Concerns about the dangers presented to children in public spaces, particularly from traffic and strangers, have resulted in children’s independent movement within their communities being severely limited. This chapter examines the literature around both parent’s and children’s concerns about safety, exploring how the concept of risk society provides a framework for understanding safety concerns. It argues that a child standpoint offers a means of reshaping the debate around risk and children’s safety in communities, by first illuminating generationally based hierarchies and second bringing children’s own perspectives to the fore.
Article
This article analyses the representation and reception of the advertising of children’s healthcare products in Chinese television. It engages with the concept of risk to analyse the representation of a coherent narrative of young children’s health-related risks comprising messages of environment, nature, nutrition and science. Within the narrative, interconnected risks – risks of everyday living, risks of environment pollution, risk of malnutrition – as well as a wider discourse of ‘risk and protection’ are constructed. This article also analyses parents’ reception of the discourse and their responses to perceived and real health risks contextualised in a neoliberal system marked by medicalised children’s healthcare and ‘truncated’ civic rights in China. This article argues that these institutional conditions reinforce the risk-centred narrative which invokes heightened parental uncertainties and anxieties about childrearing as part of the modern cultural experiences in China.
Chapter
The San Diego trolley runs from the border entry gate to Mexico throughout San Diego County. Next to cars, this is arguably the most popular way to travel to and from the border. Often, this venue attracts young, loud, drunk and bragging males on their way home from the Tijuana red-light district (la Zona Norte) area, especially on the weekends. One particular day, I sat behind two older men who were quietly laughing and sharing their experiences of the day. I interrupted their conversation to discuss my research, and they proceeded to show me a few pictures of their novias (‘girlfriends’) — sex workers with whom they had established regular rapport.1
Chapter
Our everyday world is constantly changing. Economic growth, globalisation and the continuous development of technology ensure that in all aspects of our lives — foodstuffs, energy, clothing, transport, health, employment, leisure, etc — established practices and equipment rapidly become obsolete and there are relentless pressures to innovate and ‘modernise’. In the majority of cases, these processes are driven by the capitalist market, as producers seek to shape consumer demand and as entrepreneurs champion new products and services. Part of the in-built dynamic of modern capitalism is that it is a profit-driven ‘growth machine’ characterised by perpetual technological innovation (Saunders, 1995). Such innovation consists of attempts to minimise or avoid technical problems with current machines and systems, and/or to increase cost efficiency, and/or to achieve radical breakthroughs to introduce completely new devices and methods. The shifts from coal to steam power, the availability of electricity, the evolution of motor vehicles and then air transport, the adoption of nuclear energy, the advance of computers and digital telecommunications, and new biotechnology industries are only a few illustrations of the fundamental transformations which have occurred in a relatively short historical period.
Chapter
Environmental risk perception and communication research seeks to answer questions about the acceptability and governance of the social and material impacts of environmental changes within late-modernity, as well as the future sustainability of established and newly emerging global socio-technical risks and proposed solutions. It subscribes to the importance of understanding public risk perceptions, the dynamics of everyday experiences of risk including people’s psychological investments and meaning-making, communication and dialogue about risk issues and the questions of public value that participation and engagement highlights, and the diverse interpretations that people place on aspects of both risk and uncertainty. Research into these topics helps us to explain the implications of the pace of environmental, socio-technological, and socio-cultural change for people as they live out their lives. It is also a means of elucidating how intractable local environmental problems are often bound up with ambiguous global risk issues as manifest in topics such as chemical pollution, nuclear power, climate change, geoengineering, or low carbon/energy transitions, all topics with high contemporary relevance to science policy, society, and individuals. In this chapter we explain, and exemplify with case studies from our work, the rationale and purpose of interpretive risk research, which we present as part of developments within the socio-cultural and environmental risk field as it articulates with studies of science in society and global change.
Chapter
This chapter explores how risk communications embodied in online resources can support, empower and educate individuals throughout different stages of disaster, as identified in disaster sociology, which explores social phenomena resulting from human responses to social disruptions following disasters. Part of responding to, planning for, and experiencing disaster is seeking information in response to perceived risks, so that appropriate responses can be made. With on-going advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), information about disaster-related risks is readily available online. These resources communicate to individuals risks, how to prepare for disaster and the best routes to safety. The effectiveness of online risk communication depends on individuals’ particular needs and how they perceive risk. Furthermore, engaging in risk communication through a variety of online resources allows individuals to transform their experiences into knowledge. Individuals can adjust skills and knowledge required for recovery, as well as reduce fear and anxiety. Carefully designed and theoretically informed online resources can empower and educate individuals through facilitating increased resilience, social cohesion and rebuilding of communities.
Article
Full-text available
This paper proposes an understanding of big data and anxiety within Western countries as intimately coproduced and sustained within a technocratic ideological framework. With the rise of neoliberalism, which has shaped the political and economic organisation of Western societies, more ‘efficient’ systems and neopositivist ‘science’ called ‘big data’ have been created. The accumulation of information cannot however be equated with the growth of knowledge, as the data captured by new technologies is used for private ends: the accumulation of capital and control by a small elite. As such, new data can be gathered about subjectivities, bodies and performance, and used to further pressure individuals to fit into preconceived frameworks and identities as a result of the topdown creation of individualised pseudo-problems which can cause anxiety, especially when they are not tackled collectively. The paper navigates different approaches to anxiety and big data, critiquing the technocratic solutions to social problems offered by big data science. Big data will be discussed as a ‘technological’ creation, an infrastructure which defines, represents, conditions, manages, and sustains human subjectivity, corporeal affects, and the organisation of society. The ambivalence of big data will be illustrated, as it is used both as a solution and tool for producing, but also coping with anxiety. All strategies are deeply political, underlined by a feeling of anxiety which ought to be articulated politically, to encourage a cooperative search for new ways of overcoming technological control and fostering care and collective action. Sociology must remain critical in its engagement with big data in order to reveal practices of depoliticisation, quantification, standardisation, monitorisation and sanctioning, and the reduction of social reality and experience to algorithms.
Article
Using a set of in-depth interviews from Budapest, Hungary, research focused on reproductive decision-making under personal, economic, and the social uncertainty in the post-socialist transition resulting in unclear behavioral alternatives and unpredictable outcomes. Falling birthrates throughout the region reflect these uncertainties. The subjects' responses to uncertain conditions are one of the ways by which demographic behavior is affected in the post-socialist context of institutional change. (Post-socialist Hungary, economic uncertainty, marriage and family postponements)
Article
Full-text available
Surveys show discontent with society to be prevalent among the general public across western societies. However, this undercurrent, here called societal unease, has received little scientific attention. This article has four aims. First, it proposes a conceptual model of societal unease by integrating a broad range of interdisciplinary literature. Second, it tests this conceptual model empirically with survey data from the Netherlands. Confirmatory factor analyses confirm a latent dimension of societal unease behind attitudes about five aspects of society. Third, it shows societal unease to be highly related to societal pessimism, moderately to anomia and weakly to happiness. Finally, it explores the association of societal unease with various demographic, attitudinal and behavior characteristics.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.