Risk as collectively produced: advancing empirical understandings of human-human interactions that affect risk

Peter Kamstra1, Brian Cook1, Tim Edensor2, David Kennedy1

1University Of Melbourne, Carlton, VIC, Australia

2Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom 


Risk tends to be conceptualized at the individual scale, with risk management targeting individual’s knowledge, practices, and behaviors. However, an individual’s risk perceptions and practices are undoubtedly influenced by those around them, yet, these human-human interactions that affect risk tend to be excluded from decision-making. This article diverges from treating risk as individualized, instead, analyzing the collective practices that affect risk while fishing on hazardous rocky coasts. Importantly, these collective practices between public participants are not choreographed responses friends, but are more organic, collective responses between fishers who are often unfamiliar with one another. The aim is to push against the tendency to individualize risk analyses by instead, examining the under-explored ways that risk is produced and responded to collectively. Analytically, the authors integrate participant observations, video, GPS tracking, and sketch-map interviews to substantiate the long-standing but rare conceptualizations of risk as relational. In doing so, we demonstrate that many of the high-risk events that emerge during rock fishing are managed collectively, including ‘landing fish’ and responding to wave hazards. Broadly, this study lends empirical support to long-standing attacks on the individualized framing of risk research, offering an example that is attuned to the dynamism of collective responses.


Peter Kamstra is a PhD student in the School of Geography at The University of Melbourne. He is currently investigating the relationship between individual’s risk perceptions and their behavior on high-risk rocky coasts, with an emphasis on qualitative GIS-based analysis.

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