This article explores the nature of calls for risk-based policy present in expert discourse from a cultural theory perspective. Semi-structured interviews with professionals engaged in the research and management of livestock disease control provide the data for a reading proposing that the real basis of policy relating to socio-technical hazards is deeply political and cannot be purified through ‘escape routes’ to objectivity. Scientists and risk managers are shown calling, on the one hand, for risk-based policy approaches while on the other acknowledging a range of policy drivers outside the scope of conventional quantitative risk analysis including group interests, eventualities such as outbreaks, historical antecedents, emergent scientific advances and other contingencies. Calls for risk-based policy are presented, following cultural theory, as ideals connected to a reductionist epistemology and serving particular professional interests over others rather than as realistic proposals for a paradigm shift.
- livestock disease control
- risk-based policy