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RN22 - Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty


Risk is pervasive. In the last 20 years 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 ..

Coordinator: Aiste Balzekiene, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania,

Board members 2015-17:

  • Patrick Brown, University of Amsterdam (External relations/Newsletter)
  • Kayhan Delibas, Adnan Menderes University (Mid-term conference 2016)
  • Jeremy Dixon, University of Bath
  • Efim Fidyra, Emmanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
  • Bert de Graaff, Univ. of Amsterdam (Conferences)
  • Maria Grazia Galantino, Sapienza University of Rome (External relations Newsletter)
  • Kirill Gavrilov, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Gemma Mitchell, University of Leicester (Early Career)
  • Susanna Öhman, Mid Sweden University

Advisory Board 2015-17:

  • Renata Motta, Freie Universität, Berlin
  • Piotr Matczak, Adam Mickiewicz Univ.
  • Gabe Mythen, University of Liverpool
  • Anna Olofsson, Mid Sweden University
  • Jens Zinn, University of Melbourne
  • Jörgen Sparf, Mid Sweden University


If you would like to become a member of the SoRU-network, please contact the network’s coordinator:

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: