Vulnerability conditions and risk representations in Latin-America: Framing the territorializing urban risk

Abstract : In risk studies, a large scope of approaches has already been defined, from hazard-centered to socially rooted analysis; being social scientists' focus on vulnerability more obvious from the late 1960s on. The present epistemological article locates risk causes in society and states that the production of risks is two fold: these are both material and discursive. The conceptual proposal of the article consists of setting an integrative framework that accounts for material aspects of risk as well as for the performative dimensions of its discourses, representations and conceptions. By performativity we mean that discourses and representations do not only reflect what people see or have in mind, but that they also operate the world and make things exist, having concrete consequences in society and its relations with the environment. The proposed framework is called the territorialization-of-risk framework and requires contextualizing and politicizing risk. We state that such framework lays epistemological and methodological groundwork for such a perspective. Territories are viewed as social constructions that are more than bounded pieces of space where an authority takes place. They are spaces where competing social meanings and identification are ascribed, and their making accounts for both material and ideal social drivers that also do intervene in the production of risk. Drawing on different Latin-American cities' case studies, and mainly on the case of Caracas as former PhD fieldwork, the territorialization-of-risk allows asking critical questions related with power relations, social status, identity and discourses. Actually, risk appears to be the result of a social (both material and ideal) production as it contributes to the shaping of society. It is an outcome and a driver of society at the same time. The territorialization-ofrisk framework sheds the light on the importance of non-material aspects in framing risk, as well as on the factual and discursive consequences of its management and policy.
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Julien Rebotier. Vulnerability conditions and risk representations in Latin-America: Framing the territorializing urban risk. Global Environmental Change, Elsevier, 2012, 22 (2), pp.391-398. ⟨halshs-00691121⟩

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