From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Perceptions of Risk: Tanzania

This PhD project aimed to understand which hazards are most salient in people's lives in rural northern Tanzania, and how they perceive these threats, in order to better understand responses to HIV. Nicola Desmond collected data through six months' participant observation, 35 in-depth interviews and nine group discussions in a road-side village and adjoining dispersed agricultural village. Research questions were informed by the ‘grand' risk theories of Douglas, Beck and Giddens, but more grounded theories emerged from the empirical data. In 2009 Nicola Desmond successfully completed her PhD: “Ni kubahatisha tu!” – It’s just a game of chance: adaptation and resignation to socially constructed perceptions of risk in rural Tanzania.

The study found that some risks are responded to by everyone in the same routine way, e.g. hand washing to avoid infection, but many, such as crop failure, theft or HIV, are responded to differently according to one’s social position and biography. The social benefits or costs of avoiding risk vary according to the specific circumstances and shape how people deal with risks. It is hoped that this research will improve understanding of risk perceptions and associated behaviour, and eventually contribute to the development of more appropriate interventions.

 

Publications

2009

Desmond N. 'Ni kubahatisha tu!' It’s just a game of chance: adaptation and resignation to socially constructed perceptions of risk in rural Tanzania [PhD], MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow 2009.

open access  

Project Staff

Former Staff

Glossary

  • 'Grand theories' Theories developed at a high level of abstraction which, if correct, would have very wide applicability
View all glossary entries