Risk at a turning point?
Journal of Risk Research, 1998, vol. 1, issue 2, 97-109
There is increasing recognition in comparative risk assessment of the intrinsic subjectivity of fundamental framing assumptions and the consequent necessity for active participation in analysis by all interested and affected parties. Despite this, there remains considerable inertia in the implementation of these insights in formal policy making and regulatory procedures on risk. Here, the issue seems as often to be seen as a need for better 'communication' and 'management' as for better analysis, with attention devoted as much to the classification of divergent public perspectives as to techniques for direct stakeholder participation. Pointing to the fundamental methodological problems posed in risk assessment by the conditions of ignorance and Arrow's impossibility, the present paper contends that public participation is as much a matter of analytical rigour as it is of political legitimacy. It is argued that straightforward techniques such as multi-criteria and sensitivity analysis, along with a formal approach to diversification across portfolios of 'less risky' options, may go some way toward addressing these apparently intractable problems.
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