Gender, Knowledge and Discourses of Environmental Risk

This seminar will reflect upon some of our recent thinking on the methodological and conceptual challenges that need to be considered in understanding how gender shapes people’s discourses of environmental risk. Longstanding survey research has revealed that gender matters in perceptions of environmental risk but without providing sufficient theoretical explanation for this. We argue, in contrast, for conducting in-depth analyses of risk discourses, both in their interpreted meanings and associated affects, and through pursuing epistemological and ontological complexities that are endemic when investigating environmental risk and socio-technical change. Drawing upon data from mixed focus groups of men and women talking and deliberating about nuclear power and radioactive waste, we illustrate how discursive, interactional and psychosocial thinking can open up investigation into the ways in which diverse publics perceive, discuss and engage with environmental risk issues, alongside the various knowledges and moral positions that these discourses entail.