William R. Freudenburg produced a suite of articles on the topic of risk whose aim was to integrate sociological knowledge into the risk field, then heavily reductionist. We assess the challenge in two parts. First, we explicate the conceptual context of the work of Freudenburg and colleagues in addressing this challenge. We also lay out a logical framework for connecting the real with the constructed. Second, we report a field analysis of the challenge to scientists and stakeholders of establishing the causes of the devastation produced by hurricane Katrina in 2005, an unquestionably devastating risk outcome. The field analysis illustrates conditions where our understanding of risk is a mixture of scientific realism and social construction. The analysis is based on roughly 85 in-depth interviews with scientists and experts whose professional work is in some way related to the idea of "coastal restoration" off the Louisiana coast.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Science(all)
- Hurricane Katrina
- Social construction