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Keynote Speakers










Anna Olofsson Anna Olofsson

Anna Olofsson is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Risk and Crisis Research Center (RCR) at Mid Sweden University, Sweden. Her research has, in particular, shown that while people with foreign backgrounds perceive risk at a much higher level than natives do, organizations, in their risk communication, take little into account the origins of the anticipated audiences of said communication. Her research also shows that the perceptions of who is vulnerable and who is not in crises and disasters are often based on prejudices and stereotypes rather than on who actually suffer. She has published in journals such as Current Sociology, Sozialer Fortschritt, Risk Analysis and Journal of Risk Research.

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>> anna.olofsson@miun.se


Risk Perception across Populations

Applying a sociological perspective, this presentation focuses on risk perception and the significance of gender and multicultural populations within nations. Previous research has shown that white males have a relatively low perception of risks, known as the “white male effect” (WME). Many of the explanations of this effect refer to the privileged position of this particular demographic group in society, adducing white males’ socio-economic resources, sense of control, worldviews etc. It can thus be argued that inequality leads women and ethnic minorities to have higher risk perception than men and the ethnic majority. Based on survey data from Sweden this presentation shows that there is no significant difference between men and women in risk perception in Sweden, while people with foreign backgrounds perceive risks higher than native people. Furthermore there is no evidence for a WME in Sweden, which can be a result from the relative equality between the sexes in the country. On the other hand, ethnicity serves as a marker of inequality and discrimination in Sweden. Consequently, ethnicity, in terms of foreign background, mediates inequality, resulting in high risk perception and possible also vulnerability. Equality therefore seems to be a fruitful concept with which to examine differences in risk perception between groups in society, and I propose that the ‘societal inequality effect’ is a more proper description than the “‘white male effect”.




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