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RN22 - Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

The Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty research network stimulates sociological and interdisciplinary research and debate around how risk and uncertainty are perceived, constructed, managed, communicated and/or neglected by social actors at individual, organizational and macro levels.

Risk is pervasive. In the last decades the concept spread out into a huge amount of societal domains. The original focus on technical and environmental risks widened to areas as health and physical/mental illness, crime, regulation, social inequality, the media, public and social policy, life-style, globalisation and global risk as well as the management of everyday life and intimate relationships. Since the diversity of risk-domains is neither covered by technical or psychological approaches nor by the research on catastrophes a wider societal perspective on risk and uncertainty is needed.

The central aims of the SoRU research network are to establish a sustainable discourse on the sociology of risk and uncertainty in order to support and trigger new theoretical and empirical developments in (trans-) national research.

The research network goes beyond the traditional approaches on risk perception, risk communication and sociology of catastrophes with a societal perspective on risk and uncertainty referring to theoretical traditions of cultural theory (Douglas, Tulloch/Lupton), risk society and reflexive modernization (Beck, Giddens), governmentality (Foucault, Ewald), systems theory (Luhmann, Japp) and edgework (Lyng). It will initiate theoretical discussion and research in and across different approaches (as well as interdisciplinary), and will trigger and support new and recent developments in theorizing and research. Such new developments among others are:

  • Shift from doing research on ‘risk’ to ‘risk and uncertainty’ as recently expressed in the governmentality approach and the reflexive modernization perspective.
  • Broadening of the perspective from risk as rational management of uncertainty to pre-rational and non-rational strategies to manage uncertainties and mixed forms as trust, emotion, intuition etc.
  • Biographical (un-)certainty in addition to the everyday life perspective.
  • Strategies of social resilient risk governance.
  • Risk and the problems to verbalise body experiences (suffering, anxiety etc.).
  • Narrative and biographical approaches in risk research.
  • Development of cross-disciplinary links, particularly with psychology, political science and social policy
  • Comparative cross-national research on risk cultures/regimes in different societies

… and more ...


If you would like to become a member of the SoRU-network, please contact the network’s coordinator: aiste.balzekiene[at]

If you are already a member of ESA you can directly subscribe to the email list by sending an email with the text ‘subscribe esa-soru’ to: list-manager[at]