The sociology of risk is fast becoming a recognized field of theory and research. We consider and evaluate the following key issues, debates, and theories in this emerging field: (i) The argument over whether technological disasters are different from natural disasters, (ii) the contributions of social constructionism to theories of risk, (iii) how recent work on trust and fairness can reorient scholarship on risk perception, (iv) the theory of human error, and why organizational, institutional, and cultural factors are more important, (v) the arguments about organizations that appear to be error-free (i.e. high reliability organizations), (vi) the paradox that we must rely on organizations for responding to disasters though organizations may be precisely the wrong social instruments for such response. Throughout we emphasize the role of organizations and institutional contexts in creating, assessing, and responding to risk.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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