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Social and Ethnic Variations in Risk Perceptions Evidence from Sweden Susanna Öhman, Anna Olofsson and Saman Rashid.

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Presentation on theme: "Social and Ethnic Variations in Risk Perceptions Evidence from Sweden Susanna Öhman, Anna Olofsson and Saman Rashid."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social and Ethnic Variations in Risk Perceptions Evidence from Sweden Susanna Öhman, Anna Olofsson and Saman Rashid

2 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Crisis and Risk in a Heterogeneous Society (CRIHS) Multi-disciplinary research group Risk and ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, age and urban–rural residency Projects: –Risk perceptions & sense-making of risk collaboration with University of Glamorgan –Inter-organizational cooperation –Terrorism –Crisis communication

3 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Presentation out-line Main aim is to show the role gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability play for people’s risk perceptions and safety behaviour Two studies: –Study 1: Testing gender and foreign background on attitudes to 17 different risks (The White Male Effect) –Study 2: Testing gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability on 3 different categories of risk and 2 safety behaviours Conclusions and policy implications

4 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Background Increased heterogeneity –Demographic changes –Change in attitudes Earlier research (mainly from the United States) –Differences in risk perceptions, the so-called White Male Effect (WME) –Values as a way of understanding the WME (Cultural theory) –Few studies of the role of sexual orientation and disability Current study –Cultural theory (4 world views: Individualism, Fatalism, Egalitarianism and Hierarchy) –Vulnerability: Earlier experience & social exclusion

5 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Method and material Swedish national survey (Society and Values) on risk perception, risk communication, risk behaviour, experiences and values Postal questionnaire during the winter 2005/06 The dataset is composed of two representative samples of the Swedish population aged –A national random sample (n=2000, response rate 59%) –An oversample of people with foreign background (n=750, response rate 39%)

6 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Study 1: The White Male Effect in Sweden Is there a White Male Effect (WME) in Sweden? –Do native men have lower risk perceptions than native women, as well as men and women with foreign background?

7 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London 17 different risks –Natural Disasters –BSE –Terrorism –Smoking –Stress –Epidemics –HIV –GM Food –Fires –Transportation –Climate Change –Violence –Cancer and other serious illnesses –Traffic Accidents –Alcohol –Accidents (free time) –Technological Systems How big do you think the risk is for You personally to be harmed by:

8 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Descriptives (non-controlled)

9 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Investigated factors Dependent variables Risk perceptions –The 17 different risks –Risk for “me” Control variables –Age (16-75) –Income (Low, Mid, High) Explanatory variables White Male Effect –Gender –Foreign background Values: World views –Individualism –Fatalism –Egalitarian –Hierarchy Vulnerability –Earlier experience of crisis –Social exclusion

10 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Estimation results (controlled)

11 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Conclusions of Study 1 No consistent differences between men and women Consistent differences between native people and people with foreign background The White Male Effect can not be confirmed in Sweden Differentiation between categories of risks

12 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Study 2: Expanding the model Sexual orientation & Disability –Is there a White Heterosexual Non-disabled Male Effect? –Does the “effect” vary with different categories of risks? –How about safety behaviour?

13 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Study 2 Investigated factors Explanatory variables Heterogeneity –Gender –Foreign background –Sexual orientation –Disabilities Values: World Views –Individualism –Fatalism –Egalitarian –Hierarchy Vulnerability –Earlier experience of crisis –Social exclusion Dependent variables Risk perceptions –Known risks –Controlled risks –Dread risks Safety Behaviour –Traffic –Sex and violence Control variables –Age (16-75) –Income (Low, Mid, High)

14 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Estimation results (controlled) Risk perceptions

15 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Estimation results (controlled) Safety behaviour

16 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Conclusions of Study 2 In addition to gender and ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, influence both risk perceptions and safety behaviour –Sexual orientation Controlled risks (smoking, drinking etc.) Sex and violence risk behaviour –Disability Known risks (traffic accidents, diseases etc.) To incorporate heterogeneity and vulnerability, adds to the understanding of risk perception and behaviour by partly shifting focus to social differentiation

17 17 June 2008Risk in Societal and Inter-Generational Perspective, London Main conclusions Heterogeneity, in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, is important to consider in relation to risk The effect of heterogeneity is context dependent –Gender is not as important in Sweden as in the U.S. Equality a probable explanation –Risk perception and safety behaviour depends on type of risk Important to identify the combination of heterogeneity and kind of risk Heterogeneity intermediates influences rather than explains Important to consider heterogeneity in risk policy and risk communication –Adjust messages according to target group –Dialog and two way communication

18 Thank you for listening!


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