In the two decades since a new social movement put environmental issues high on the national policy agenda, Washington has become home to a small group of people—the risk professionals—whose careers center on the identification, assessment, and management of risks to public health and safety. These men and women, experts working in federal agencies, Congress, activist organizations, and corporations, help transform mass concern into government policy, shaping the way our society responds to environmental and technological hazards.
Based on nearly 230 interviews, The Risk Professionals provides the first comprehensive sociological analysis of our "danger establishment." Dietz and Rycroft explore the social, educational, and career profiles of risk professionals; their worldviews and ideologies; their networks and norms. Not content to view risk professionals from a single perspective, the authors build an integrated description that considers commonalities in their subjects' backgrounds, interests, values, and communication patterns. The result is a uniquely revealing look into the heart of the risk policy system, and a broader illumination of the social structures and dynamics that will influence environmental policy for years to come.
THOMAS DIETZ is at George Mason University.
ROBERT W. RYCROFT is at George Washington University.
A Volume in the the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Frontiers Series