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The Foresight Saga: Lessons from the Failures of Risk Representation

Shelia Jasanoff
Harvard University

Date: 13 December 2005
Time: 4.00-5.30pm
Venue: CARR Seminar Room, Connaught House

Abstract
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, America, according to some commentators, rediscovered poverty. The physical risks of a Category 5 hurricane were evidently better known than the social risks posed by such an event. Katrina in this respect drew attention to a recurrent failure of the imagination when it comes to forecasting risks. Fixated on the texts of predictive analysis, decision makers and publics lose sight of the contexts in which risks are produced, amplified, and do their damage. To restore these contexts to view, we need to draw on the resources of political deliberation more than expert analysis. Representing risk becomes as much a political as a technical undertaking, and it raises new issues for the design of participatory institutions.

This seminar is sponsored by the Department of Social Psychology, the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR), and the London Public Understanding of Science.

 

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