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On the role of anticipation in risk theory
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences. (RCR)
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

On the role of anticipation in risk theory

Mikael Linnell, RCR

In this paper I discuss anticipation as a key concept in regard to the more established

notions of risk and uncertainty. I argue that anticipation, although closely associated

with the notion of risk, has for a long time remained undertheorized (e.g. Gasparini,

2004:340; Poli, 2014:23, 2017:3). The overall purpose of the paper is thus to illustrate

the fact that anticipation may function as a mediating phenomenon between our

understanding of risk and our concrete practices for coping with uncertain futures. As

have been argued by Adams et al. (2009:246), “one defining quality of our current

moment is its characteristic state of anticipation, of thinking and living toward the

future”. Moreover, Granjou et al. (2017:1), point to a number of recent scholarly

themes, “ranging from an enduring assessment of the ‘not yet’ to the contested

prefiguring of the ‘what if’”, which seems indicative of what might be a reinvigorated

‘futures turn’. This view is shared by Levitas (2013), Nowotny (2016) and Poli (2014),

among others, who note that anticipation is at the heart of urgent risk-related debates,

from climate change to economic crisis. Accordingly, there is obviously reason for

some trans-disciplinary attention to and development of risk theory. In particular, we

need to understand better how to engage with the complexity of anticipation and

explore the knowledge practices associated with future-oriented approaches (e.g.

Adam, 2011; Brown et al., 2000; Mallard and Lakoff, 2011). According to Szerszynski

(2015), what is lacking is a systematic approach to ‘anticipatory regimes’ that enables

us to study how anticipation is understood and practiced in different social formations.

This paper is an attempt in this direction. Although a plethora of recent studies on risk

and risk management focus on the ways in which various actors imagine future

problems and seek to render them governable, the typical “governmental” study of

risk appears to have more or less moved on (O’Malley, 2016:110). Perhaps the

governmentality perspective, as we have come to know it, has now become

normalized and appears as “the ghost in the machinery of a good deal of

contemporary risk analysis – still present, but increasingly invisible” (O’Malley,

2016:110).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-35907OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-35907DiVA, id: diva2:1300737
Conference
The 27th annual conference of the Society for Risk Analysis Europe, SRA-E: From Critical Thinking to Practical Impact, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, June 19, 2018
Available from: 2019-03-29 Created: 2019-03-29 Last updated: 2019-06-19Bibliographically approved

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