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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]


Statement in Response to Invasion of Ukraine – from the Boards of European Sociological Association Research Network 22 and International Sociological Association Thematic Group 04.

As two international networks of scholars spanning Europe (ESA RN22) and the globe (ISA TG04), we express our shock and deep sadness at the recent invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. We condemn this violence in the strongest terms and are very much concerned by the suffering caused to those living in and fleeing Ukraine, as well as the wider effects across the European region and beyond, in terms of vulnerability, anxiety and uncertainty. As social science researchers seeking to relate across divides of many kinds, we are deeply struck by this brutal hostility and bloodshed which challenges basic democratic values and human rights.

Critical sociological approaches to risk and uncertainty have stressed the political functioning of risk and the ways in which common cultural understandings are bound up with power relations. In seeking to support the victims of this conflict, we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian social scientists, and with our colleagues elsewhere, including in the Russian Federation, who have raised their voices against this war, and defend democracy and human rights. At the same time, we do not want to underestimate the difficulties and real costs of maintaining a critical voice amid authoritarian contexts. As academic networks, we seek to promote communication and research which is conceptually critical, empirically robust, and which avoids contributing to the stigmatisation and marginalisation of communities, of citizens and of social science researchers.

To this end we aim to continue to cooperate with all members of our networks who support democratic values and we will engage in concrete actions to help, stimulate and disseminate the work of scholars in Ukraine and elsewhere who are carrying on critical sociological research.