9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN22 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Participation Building I, 2E2

Environmental Risk Governance and Citizen Input: a Analysis of Decision Outcome-Based Arguments

There are several weighty reasons for citizen involvement in environmental risk governance. Public engagement has been stated, for instance, to serve democracy and secure the legitimacy of decisions, increase consensus within a society, and establish trust in decision-makers and experts. Another kind of rationale is that citizen input is typically presumed to lead to better judgment and decisions on risk. First, taking lay people's views into account in risk management might result in better answer to the non-factual questions of risk appraisal and decision-making, such as the socio-ethical ones. Second, at the level of the assessment of risks citizen input might enable scientists and decision-makers to answer factual questions related to environmental matters. From the scientist's point of view it may seem, however, that taking citizen views into account necessarily deteriorates the quality of the estimates and decisions. This paper discusses the ways in and stages at which the public can participate in environmental risk decision-making and the possible benefits and problems of doing so. The focus is on decision outcome-based arguments, i.e. I consider the question whether the prevailing conception of environmental risk governance leaves space for citizen input from the knowledge-producing point of view.