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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
July 2, 2015

Canadian Excellence

Risk in Canadian Cultures

Adapting A Cultural Theory of Risk To The Canadian Contexts

I have been awarded a one-year, $56,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to lead a team of four scholars from Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of New Brunswick and Yale University to adapt a cultural theory of risk perception to the Canadian context.

This theory of risk was developed by the anthropologist Mary Douglas and then applied to an industrialized society with the political scientist Aaron Wildavsky. The theory's central thesis is that first citizens make commitments to visions of what constitutes a well-ordered society and then risks are invoked that reflect and reinforce this commitment.

Professor Dan Kahan, part of our research group, has developed a series of survey questions that have been used to great effect in the United States context. However, in some work that Dr. Andrea Perrella and I conducted on municipal fluoridation in Waterloo, it became apparent that the Canadian context required slightly different survey questions.

We will be spending the next six months to a year designing and testing survey questions suitable to the Canadian context.

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