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Cultural theory and risk perception: a proposal for a better measurement

Susanne Rippl

Journal of Risk Research, 2002, vol. 5, issue 2, 147-165

Abstract: In the 1980s, social and cultural perspectives become increasingly important in the field of risk research. In current empirical research on the influence of social and cultural factors on risk perception, the cultural theory (CT) of Douglas and Wildavsky ( Risk and Culture: An Essay on Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers , Berkeley: California University Press, 1982) is the most influential approach. In 1990 Dake introduced a measurement instrument that is used broadly in quantitative studies on cultural theory and risk. In the discussion of Dake's work, two questions have emerged as most controversial. First, can Douglas and Wildavsky's theoretical concept be tested on the basis of data obtained from individuals, as is done by Dake and many other authors? Second, does the instrument introduced by Dake ( Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology , 22, 61-82, 1991) show sufficient validity, in the sense that hypotheses which could be derived from CT hold true when Dake's scales are used? Both questions are addressed here. A new instrument and strategies to test the validity are introduced, which address criticisms of Dake's work.

Date: 2002
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