Theorising Risk Work: Analysing Professionals’ Lifeworlds and Practices
The proliferation of risk logics within public and private sector organisational contexts where many professionals work has been studied as a phenomenon itself, as governance and in its impact on clients. The everyday experiences and practices of (para)professionals where risk has become a key and in some cases (re)defining feature or logic of everyday work—in assessing, intervening, advising and/or communicating—has received much less attention. We develop a theoretical framework for analysing this risk work, identifying three core and interwoven features—risk knowledge, interventions, and social relations. Central to our argument is that these features often stand in tension with one another, as intrinsic and implicit features of risk knowledge—probabilities, categories and values—become explicit and awkward in everyday practices and interactions. We explore key analytical trajectories suggested by our theoretical framework—in particular, the ways in which tensions emerge, remain (partially) hidden or are reconciled in practice.
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