Risk regulation and risk perception : the link to risk perspectives
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The purpose of this paper is to discuss how risk regulation is related to fundamental concepts about risk. It distinguishes between two risk perspectives: a traditional risk perspective where risk is considered an objective property of the activity studied and an alternative perspective where uncertainty is the main component of risk. The discussion is substantiated by drawing comparisons between two cases, namely the risk regulation concerning wireless networks and base stations of Salzburg municipality and that of Stavanger municipality. Salzburg, in having adopted a more precautionary approach to their regulation of sources emitting electromagnetic radiation, represents a more proactive form of risk management. Uncertainty constitutes not only an integral, but also a crucial part of decisions and decision-making processes, and gives grounds for the precautious measures that are taken by regulating authorities. Stavanger can be characterised as more reactive than Salzburg, in that its risk regulation heavily relies on some defined limiting values and is, to a large extent, guided by staying within these. Here, electromagnetic radiation is not perceived by many central parties as a real risk to our health. This has direct implications for the degree of regulatory intervention and measures taken (or not taken). The risk regulations of Salzburg and Stavanger are based on different pools of scientific evidence and different sets of assumptions, the result being two different “worlds” of risk regulation. In this paper we show that the traditional risk perspective and the alternative risk perspective to a large extent support the risk regulation of the Stavanger and Salzburg cases respectively. We conclude that the alternative perspective provides the best foundation for regulation in situations like the one studied with large uncertainties and stakes involved.
Master's thesis in Risk management and societal safety