2Risk in our livespage 2
3Ulrich Beckpage 3
4Experts and lay epidemiologypage 4
This report will examine the disputed role of expert knowledge in understanding and managing risk. It will look at the definitions of risk and discuss two case studies which reflect how the experts’ knowledge has influenced the perception of risks and the subsequent management of these risks. It will also look at the sociological theory of risk created by Ulrich Beck and how that theory reflects the role of the expert.
2.Risk in our lives
Risk can be defined as ‘a state in which there is a possibility of known danger or harm, which if avoided may lead to benefits’ (Carter and Jordan, 2009, page 59). But we are aware of risks, in fact it is ‘something that we are all intuitively familiar with and something we manage daily, and often automatically, even when we are dealing with major hazards’ (Carter and Jordan, 2009, page 57), therefore, the role of the expert may be disputed in understanding and managing risk. With all risk there is an element of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be defined as ‘ignorance of, or a lack of precision regarding, the consequences of an activity, or a general feeling of not knowing’ (Carter and Jordan, 2009, page 59). It is the ‘not knowing’ which may require the experts to assist in managing and understanding risk. 2.1Soil
This first case study explores the safety of a soil sample. The soil sample was from an allotment in Hackney, London which was used by a family for growing vegetables. A letter received stated that ‘the allotment soil was poisoned with arsenic and lead that no food grown on the soil should be eaten and that bare skin should not come into contact with...