Challenging Expert Knowledge in the Context of

Challenging Expert Knowledge in the Context of Understanding and Managing Risk.

Report for TMA 5 Open University Introducing the social sciences

June 2014.
  1. Introduction
  2. Ulrich’s Beck theory of risk
  3. Epidemiology, prevention paradox and lay knowledge
      4.1 Epidemiology.
      4.2 Prevention paradox.
      4.3 Lay knowledge.
  4. Understanding Risk /definition of risk
  5. Danger and Peril.
  6. Case study 1 Cycling
  7. Case study 2 Sun exposure.
  8. Confidence in the message.
  9. Conclusion
  10. References.

This report will examine the challenges of expert knowledge in understanding and managing risk. It will look at the definitions of risk and use two case studies and how expert knowledge influenced the perception of the risks and the subsequent management of risk. It will review epidemiology and lay knowledge cannot exist separately. Finally, it will explore how the public view the expert's message and the confidence they perceive in the message.
2. Ulrich’s Beck theory of risk
Ulrich Beck influential theory of risk argued that society has become dependent on external information usually expert knowledge to assess risk, instead of using personal experience or common sense.
Beck used the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in this theory. The danger of radiation exposure was an "invisible risk" and the population relied on this risk been revealed and defined by experts. Beck described society as in a period of transition towards a "risk society" where risk was once defined in scarcity to one of abundance. (Carter and Jordan, 2009 pg. 80).
3. Epidemiology, prevention paradox and lay knowledge.
3.1 Epidemiology is the contributory factors in illness, disease and death in people. A new epidemiolical expert emerged in the late twentieth century, linked to a fall in the mortality rate. Chronic illnesses like coronary heart disease became the leading cause of death instead of acute illness...