Risk amplification and zoonosis

D.G. Duckett, J.S. Busby

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This qualitative study presents a novel perspective on 'risk amplification', applying it to zoonosis. We introduce the concept of 'folk epidemiology' to trace a narrative dimension to understandings about zoonotic disease. We see this narrative influence as an element that is bound-up with action around actual cases of zoonosis drawing on 'sensemaking' approaches. We adopt a wider perspective on 'communication theory' drawing on 'corrmiunion' based readings beyond the narrow 'transmission' metaphors that limit existing approaches. The intention is to reanimate the actor from passive receiver of transmitted risk messages into someone who concurrently shapes and is shaped by risk. This social action is described in terms of actors using accounts from a reservoir of dominant narratives and selecting from a repertoire of available actions. Actors perform these operations in the context of a specific case of zoonosis. Focus groups of 'lay publics' and expert groups provide our empirical data. Instances of narrative and action combination centered on cases are presented. This empirical work aims to demonstrate the underlying sfructure of this 'folk epidemiology' ; a three element structure of narrative, action and case that allows novel insights into how we humans understand the risks from animal diseases that infect us.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSafety, Reliability and Risk Analysis: Theory, Methods and Applications
EditorsSebastian Martorell, C. Guedes Soares, Julie Barnett
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780415485135
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • risk amplification
  • zoonotic disease
  • animal disease
  • focus groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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