Can policy be risk-based? The cultural theory of risk and the case of livestock disease containment

Dominic Duckett*, Brian Wynne, Rob M. Christley, A. Louise Heathwaite, Maggie Mort, Zoe Austin, Jonathan M. Wastling, Sophia M. Latham, Ruth Alcock, Philip Haygarth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-399
Number of pages21
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number4
Early online date3 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • livestock disease control
  • risk-based policy
  • policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Can policy be risk-based? The cultural theory of risk and the case of livestock disease containment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this