9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN22 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Theory II Building I, 2E2

Risks in an interdisciplinary prospective. The advantages of a simulative approach: study-case analysis

Contemporary context is characterised by an ever growing information overload, generated by the diffusion of new interactive media.
Such overload makes daily choice in uncertainty conditions particularly "costly".
Our work takes into consideration both risks and uncertainty, considering them as social constructs, dependent on the way choice is "prospected" (Kahneman & Tversky) to social actors.
We started form the assumption, of interdisciplinary matrix, that individual attitude toward risk and perception of probabilities tied to choice prospects on the part of social actors are determined, besides strictly sociological variables, also by variables of the cognitive and emotive type. Up to date, however, it has not been possible for sociology to handle the interdisciplinary matrix verifying the contribution of cognitive and emotive spheres in the genesis of meaning (in the weberian sense), and so, that of rationality, of social actions, and choice. Today, simulative methods allow such links, starting from the definition of computational models of social phenomena. Social Simulation based on Agents consists in constructing society models of artificial agents, in transferring these models onto programmes that run in computers, in observing the dynamics of such societies and possibly translate them into values, quantitative data to elaborate statistically. Our work will examine a study-case, i.e. an agents' simulation bent on the exploration of the relationship between users of new technologies and the propensity to risk, intended as tendency towards innovation. The simulation originates from a research about the effects that an information campaign against Trusted Computing, (i.e. a hardware and software control system on digital information flow that members of the Trusted Computing Group have been trying to put in to action for some years) could have on six different type of users, that research differentiates on the basis of their info computer-studies competence and their interest in new communication and information technologies. Such simulation will be analysed from the epistemology of social sciences point of view, with the objective of verifying which could be the contribution of hypothesis triggered by the connection of different disciplines, such as, in the specific case, sociology, cognitive psychology of the experimental cut, economics.