Volume 37, Number C1, February 2002ECORAD 2001: The Radioecology - Ecotoxicology of Continental and Estuatine Environments
|Page(s)||C1-217 - C1-222|
|Published online||14 October 2009|
Risk in an individualistic society - the basis of public attitudes towards the nuclear industry in contemporary Britain
Westlakes Research Institute, International Research and Graduate Centre, Westlakes Science and Technology Park, Moor Row, CA24 3JY, Cumbria, U.K.
In contemporary society, developments in the social, political and technological environments are leading value orientations to move towards "individualisation". These changes have significant implications for public acceptance of risks, in particular for the nuclear industry. The key paradox of risk perception among Individualists is that they are more risk aware but less risk averse. Individualists heighten the importance of self in their evaluation process as they undertake "balancing behaviour", a cognitive cost-benefit analysis based upon the perceived benefits and disbenefits of the nuclear industry. Our research of public attitudes in the community around the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant suggests that even in close proximity to a perceived high-risk facility, individualists perform a more thorough analysis of referents in the formation of an attitude. There are significant implications for risk communicators; they need to characterise the value orientations of their intended audiences effectively, both to establish appropriate channels of communication, and to adapt their message to address the key concerns of their audiences. However, in this age of individualisation, the key question may just be "What's in it for me ?"
© EDP Sciences, 2002
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