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Asymmetrical Actors and Intentional Risk

Speaker: Professor Frank Furedi, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent at Canterbury
Date: 6 May 2003
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue: CARR Seminar Room, H615


Differential cultural attitudes towards risk-taking have a crucial bearing on the impact of asymmetrical threat. It is not simply the case that asymmetric actors regard risk-taking from the vantage point of an opportunity, the very risk-averse culture of their target society may encourage them to exploit this difference in attitudes.

Officials concerned with reassuring a risk-conscious public may well become distracted from the task from preparing society to deal with asymmetric threat. In some cases, official reassurance can actually amplify the public's sense of insecurity, and in others, governmental warning can actually serve to intensify public fears.

Asymmetric threats today are principally non-material and non-technological factors such as an asymmetrical relationship towards time and space, an asymmetry of will, an asymmetry of cultural attitudes, an asymmetry towards risk-taking and an asymmetry in vulnerability. This paper will examine the impact of these five variables on the constitution of contemporary asymmetric risk.