Risk and emotion: towards an alternative theoretical perspective

Deborah Lupton

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    161 Citations (Scopus)
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    While it is generally accepted in writings on the sociocultural aspects of risk that risk and emotion are interrelated, this relationship remains under-theorised. The literature on the affect heuristic model in psychology and research on voluntary risk-taking or edgework in sociology have dominated previous writings on risk and emotion. This essay draws on scholarship from affect theory, cultural studies and cultural geography to argue that both emotion and risk are inevitably and always configured via social and cultural processes and through interaction with others' bodies, material objects, space and place. Furthermore, both emotions and risk judgements and understandings, rather than being located within the individual, are fluid, shared and collective. The concept of the emotion-risk assemblage' is introduced to denote a heterogeneous configuration of ideational and material, human and non-human elements that is subject to constant flux and change. I illustrate this analysis with some observations about the emotional elements of risk in the context of public health practice. I argue that although public health discourse represents the field as dispassionately expert and rational, its practices frequently engage affective strategies that covertly, and sometimes overtly, incite or reproduce stigmatisation, marginalisation, blaming, shame, disgust, fear and exclusion of certain social groups
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalHealth, Risk and Society
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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