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Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management

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Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management

Edited by:
Thomas Measham   CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
Stewart Lockie   The Australian National University

Illustrations, Colour illustrations
232 pages, 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

    Paperback - 2012
ISBN: 9780643104129 - AU $ 69.95

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Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management marks a timely contribution, given that environmental management is no longer just about protecting pristine ecosystems and endangered species from anthropogenic harm; it is about calculating and managing the risks to human communities of rapid environmental and technological change.

Firstly, the book provides a solid foundation of the social theory underpinning the nature of risk, then presents a re-thinking of key concepts and methods in order to take more seriously the biophysical embeddedness of human society. Secondly, it presents a rich set of case studies from Australia and around the world, drawing on the latest applied research conducted by leading research institutions. In so doing, the book identifies the tensions that arise from decision-making over risk and uncertainty in a contested policy environment, and provides crucial insights for addressing on-ground problems in an integrated way.


  • First volume to address environmental risk from a social science perspective
  • Latest theoretical developments
  • In depth case studies of contemporary issues (e.g. climate change, water shortages)

List of contributors
1 Social perspectives on risk and uncertainty: reconciling the spectacular and the mundane
Part I What does social theory tell us about environmental risk and vulnerability?
2 Managing risk under uncertainty
3 Risk and environmental victimisation
4 The lure of the market in tackling global warming
Colour plates
5 Complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity in inclusive risk governance
Part II Dealing with risk at local scale
6 Market-based resource management policy and environmental uncertainty: outsourcing risk calculation
7 Women and risk: commercial wastewater injection wells and gendered perceptions of risk
8 Development of environmental risk management plans in Great Barrier Reef catchments
9 Shifting sands: uncertainty and a local community response to sea level rise policy in Australia
10 Risk and climate change in Brazilian coastal cities
11 Vulnerability analysis, risk and deliberation: the Sydney Climate Change Adaptation Initiative
Part III Governance and risk
12 Uncertainty and ambiguity in environmental governance: water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments
13 Choice editing for the environment: managing corporate risks
14 Crisis, change and water institutions in south-east Queensland: strategies for an integrated approach
15 Using holistic scenarios to rewrite rural futures

  • A wide range of professionals and managers due to the large and expanding significance of social dimensions of environmental risk.
  • Academics for use in postgraduate teaching and supervision, both in traditional disciplines of social sciences (sociology, human geography, human ecology, anthropology, political science) and the new wave of large multi-disciplinary environment and sustainability schools.
  • Engagement professionals
  • Risk management consultants
  • Community development professionals
  • Community development students

 "In this wide ranging and very topical volume Tom Measham and Stewart Lockie have gathered together an impressive international array of scholars in the panoply of modern risk assessment and management. This is a valuable addition to a congested literature as it tackles the integration of interpretations of risk in scenario building, resources planning for whole river basins, forensic analyses and the emerging arena of ecological economics. This book is timely and stretching."
Tim O’Riordan, Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia

 Thomas Measham is a human geographer in the Social and Economic Sciences Program of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. His research interests are in social learning, community engagement and regional dimensions of sustainability science.

Stewart Lockie is Professor and Head of the School of Sociology at the Australian National University, and President of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Environment and Society. He has developed an international reputation for his research and publications in rural and environmental sociology, particularly in relation to the governance of environmental problems and the social impacts of resource-based industries.


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