Conference Agenda

RN22_03: Risk and Uncertainty in Everyday Life
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Anna Olofsson, Mid Sweden University
Location: UP.4.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


The Fabrication Of Certainty: How Impostors Manipulate Everyday Risk-taking

Christian Alexander Thiel

University Augsburg, Germany

Recent research mentions several rational, non-rational and in-between strategies for managing risk and uncertainty in everyday life (Zinn 2016). The presentation addresses the ‘weak points’ of these strategies by looking how professional fraudsters deceive people to trustfully grant access to their individual assets. Often using typical ‘scams and schemes’ they successfully manipulate people’s perception of (un)certainty and their modes of risk-taking.

Based on data of a qualitative study of several actors involved in fraudulent activities (n = 37 in-depth interviews with offenders, victims, police investigators; n = 13 extensive criminal files), carried out as a three-year DFG project at the University Augsburg, we tried to explore how risk-taking in everyday life can be exploited. We therefore analyzed typical scams tackling basal aspects of everyday life: “romance scam” (love), “rip-deal” (business), “grandparent scam” (family) and “investment fraud” (finance). We could identify several techniques to manipulate risk-managing strategies like calculation, trust, intuition, emotion, belief, hope and faith as well as people’s motives of risk-taking, their locus of control, their assessment of risk and their (situational) identity. By embedding this in a methodological approach of interpretative sociology we could reconstruct the complex interactive processes of acting and sense-making in fraudulent interactions. These findings will be discussed regarding the necessity and the dangers of risk-taking in late modern society. All in all this sheds some light on the question how people perceive, construct, manage and communicate risk and uncertainty in their daily life.


Jens O. Zinn (2016) ‘In-between’ and other reasonable ways to deal with risk and uncertainty: A review article, Health, Risk & Society, 18:7-8, 348-366

Couples’ Construction of Boundaries of Risk and Responsibility during Pregnancy

Irina Radu1, Solène Gouilhers2, Raphaël Hammer2, Yvonne Meyer2, Jessica Pehlke-Milde1

1Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland; 2University of Applied Sciences and the Arts, Western Switzerland

From a public health perspective, alcohol has been constructed as an important risk factor for fetal health during the pregnancy period. This is reflected in public health guidelines, which in many European countries advise abstinence during pregnancy. Women’s own perceptions of alcohol as risk during pregnancy however, are varied and practices range from abstinence to occasional or regular alcohol consumption. In our study, which focuses on expecting couples living in Switzerland, we aim to understand the way that pregnant women and their male partners perceive this risk and how they construct the boundaries between “harmful”, “risky” and “safe” daily habits. To this end, we used a rare methodological set-up among studies on risk and pregnancy: we conducted separate interviews with both partners of 46 couples, in the Lausanne and Zurich areas.

Based on a thematic analysis, our findings indicate that pregnancy is a transition period during which boundaries around health risk-assessment emerge within the couple, with women tending to take on the responsibility for the fetus’s health, seeking information on everything from prenatal screenings to diet and alcohol consumption. We identified three ideal-types concerning women’s risk perception and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, with the women’s information-seeking behavior playing an important part in shaping risk perception. Furthermore, we found that male partners take on a supportive role during this stage, enforcing the women’s strategies of risk diminution – a dynamic, which can lead to an early solidification of gender roles in child rearing.

Risk Perceptions In Relation To Threats, Violence And Attacks On Higher Education Institutions In Denmark

Nina Baron

University College Copenhagen, Denmark

Globally the awareness on safety on schools and higher education institutions is growing, especially in rela-tion to threats, violence and attacks. At the same time, this sector has historically not had a large focus on emergency management. In this study, we explore what this means for the risk perception and knowledge of emergency manage-ment on campuses of higher educations in Denmark.

The study consist of qualitative cases studies of ten different campuses spread out over Denmark. On each campus, a number of qualitative case studies have been carried out with students, faculty members and the management. Also, observations of student behaviour and the physical location has been made.

The study shows an overall feeling of safety in a Danish context. However, also some important divisions. The students and faculty members express that they see the risk of violence or attach on the institutions as very limited or non-existent. On the other hand the managers and to some extent the facility people, see the risk as real and one there demands attention. For the managers smaller cases of threats and violence are an ongoing part of their everyday tasks. Also, the managers in general express an expectation of high level of knowledge among the staffs and students’ of the institutions emergency managements plans, which often do not match the knowledge level expressed by the students and staff members in our inter-views.

In the presentation will be discussed the consequences of those findings. Are they an example of how every-day practices unavoidable influence risk perceptions or should it be seen as a call for action?

From the Problematization of Uncertainty in Iranian Films to the Uncertainty of a Traumatic Everyday Life

Habib Allah Moghimi

University of Sydney

One of the main features of contemporary Iranian cinema is uncertainty. This uncertainty is most recognizable in two forms. The first appears as moral uncertainties in the content of the films, and the second in the neorealistic form of the Iranian films where, often, the viewer is uncertain of the boundaries between the reality of the storyline and the fictional recreations within the film. By problematizing this vital feature of Iranian films this paper answers the following related questions. How is “uncertainty” shaped as an artistic form in Iranian cinema? How is uncertainty understandable as a social concept in Iranian everyday life? Answering these questions will enable us to understand the relationship between cinema and everyday life and also will help us to portray Iranian everyday life.

Keywords: Visual studies, Visual uncertainty, Iranian cinema, Everyday life, Urban Trauma