Risk and responsibility in an age of global threat

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Antoinette Fage-Butler


Aarhus University


DKK 730,664




Monograph Fellowships


We live in a time of multiple global threats: our media spheres in the 2020s have been saturated with information about what we should or should not be doing to meet the challenges of the pandemic and climate change. Given the current role and prevalence of global risk communication, this project will explore connections between risks and responsibility in official risk communication about the "super wicked problems" of the pandemic and climate change. It seeks to contribute new insights and to further understanding of how risks "responsibilise" publics, where the public are encouraged to adopt risk-minimizing behaviours.


On the face of it, risks provide information about problems or catastrophes that may exist in the future and that we may be able to avert. However, presenting such potential outcomes delegates some of the responsibility for the outcomes to individual risk message receivers, creating moral decision-points. Although this ability of risks to "responsibilise" publics is central to the functioning of risk communication in our societies, it has been under-investigated empirically. The mechanisms and implications of global risk communication thus need a thorough investigation, also given the prolific nature of global risk communication and the public's regular exposure to it. This monograph will address these gaps.


To achieve its intended outcomes, the monograph will construct a solid theoretical basis through new theoretical syntheses. This will happen in an interplay with data, where examples of official risk communication about the pandemic and climate change will be analysed, leading to new insights. Theoretical, ethical and practical implications of the contributions of the monograph's findings will also be discussed.

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