The Contexts of Risk

Erin Gibbs Van Brunschot, University of Calgary
Leslie W. Kennedy, Rutgers University

Despite the public fascination with both risk and crime, few North American studies address the relationship between and among the contexts of crime and other social contexts. How do individuals assess threat (or, for some, opportunity) in crime contexts in comparison to threats or opportunities found in other contexts? Our study makes a unique contribution to the study of risk and crime, and whether individuals' consideration of hazard and opportunity transfers from context to context. Not only do we examine the criminal context, but we also consider the areas of health/well-being, work/finances, sport/leisure, and nature/technology. By viewing risk as a process, we examine the relationship between the past (individual's previous experiences and behaviors in various contexts), the present (individual's current behaviors and attitudes), and the future (what individuals expect to happen). We examine how the risk process varies between and among individuals, as well as between and among social contexts. Data for this study was gathered through a survey of 1200 Western Canadian respondents interviewed by telephone in early 2002. We expect our findings will contribute to ongoing policy debates surrounding crime prevention and the preventative movement more generally, and the strategic interventions currently in place to deal with hazard.

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Updated 05/20/2006