Feeling secure or being secure? Why it can seem better not to protect yourself against a natural hazard

Harries, Tim (2008) Feeling secure or being secure? Why it can seem better not to protect yourself against a natural hazard. Health, Risk & Society, 10(5), pp. 479-490. ISSN (print) 1369-8575

Full text available as:
Accepted_for_Health_Risk_and_Society_10_5.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (286kB) | Preview


This article presents qualitative research in flood risk areas of England that suggests that the desire to feel secure can sometimes deter people from taking actions that would reduce the actual physical damage of a hazardous natural event. That is, it argues that people sometimes put what Giddens calls their ontological security above their physical security. Preferring to think of their homes as places that are innately safe, they reject the idea of defending them; preferring to think of nature as a positive moral force, they hesitate to view it as a source of real danger; and preferring to think of society as a competent protector of last resort, they are reluctant to accept the need to protect themselves. Being central to ontological security, such social representations (of �home�, �nature�, �society� etc.) are defended by avoiding perceptual shifts and behaviours that might challenge them. This paper discusses how and why they are defended, what happens when they become indefensible and why some householders and groups of householders are more willing than others to take self-protective actions against risks such as flooding.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Environment Agency for England.
Uncontrolled Keywords: flood risk, anxiety, emotional security, climate change, adaptation, discourse analysis
Research Area: Psychology
Communication, cultural and media studies
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Business and Law (until 2017) > Kingston Business School (Strategy, Marketing and Entrepreneurship) (until July 2013)
Faculty of Business and Law (until 2017)
Depositing User: Timothy Harries
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2011 15:28
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2012 21:50
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13698570802381162
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/18064

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page