Monday, June 5, 2006

Environmental Risk Perception and Culture

Here's an interesting excerpt of Dan Kahan's discussion of cultural cognition studies on Empirical Legal Studies:Environmental Risk Perception

We found a similar relationship between the cultural status anxiety and the white male effect in environmental risk perceptions. To begin with, there are no differences in risk perception across race once cultural worldviews are controlled for. Gender differences do persist. But they are due entirely to the wide discrepancy in the views of extremely risk-skeptical white hierarchical males and considerably less risk-skeptical hierarchical women. There are no gender (or race) based differences in environmental risk perception among relatively individualistic or egalitarian persons.

Again, these patterns suggest the impact of culture-specific gender differences in status-conferring social roles. Within a hierarchic way of life, men tend to earn esteem by achieving success in civil society, while women earn it by successfully occupying domestic roles. Accordingly, it is hierarchic men, not hierarchic women, who experience the greatest status threat when commercial and industrial activities are challenged as dangerous. But within an individualist way of life, success in the market is status-conferring for men and women. Accordingly, individualistic men and individualistic women react with status-protecting skepticism when commerce and industry are attacked as dangerous. Commerce and industry are symbolic of social inequality and unconstrained individualism within egalitarian and solidaristic ways of life. Accordingly, as a means of promoting their status, men and women alike within these cultural groups tend to embrace claims of environmental risk.

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