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Beyond Regions and Ideology: Using Cultural Theory to Explain Risk Perception in Canada

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2020

Simon J. Kiss*
Affiliation:
Digital Media and Journalism, Wilfrid Laurier University, 20 Charlotte Street, Brantford, ON, N3T2W2
Éric Montpetit
Affiliation:
Political Science, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7
Erick Lachapelle
Affiliation:
Political Science, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7
*
*Corresponding author. Email: skiss@wlu.ca

Abstract

Cultural theory (CT) has been widely used to explain variations in risk perception but has rarely been tested in Canada. This contribution represents the most thorough attempt to adapt CT to the Canadian context. Study results suggest that respondents’ commitment to egalitarianism was strongly correlated with risks from technology, while respondents’ commitment to hierarchism was strongly correlated with risks from criminal or unsafe behaviours. Respondents’ commitment to individualism was also correlated with risks from criminal and unsafe behaviours but differed from hierarchism in that individualism was not correlated with risk perceptions from prostitution and marijuana use. Respondents’ commitments to fatalism were strongly correlated with risk perception of vaccines. These conclusions are reinforced by results from a survey question that tests the extent to which such cultural predispositions map onto the myths of nature hypothesized by CT and by a survey experiment that tests how cultural commitments predict perceived risks from a controversial pipeline.

Résumé

Résumé

La théorie culturelle (TC) a été largement utilisée pour expliquer les variations de la perception du risque mais a rarement été testée au Canada. La présente contribution représente la tentative la plus approfondie d'adaptation de la théorie culturelle au contexte canadien. Les résultats suggèrent que l'engagement des répondants envers l'égalitarisme est fortement corrélé avec les risques liés à la technologie, tandis que l'engagement des répondants envers la hiérarchie est fortement corrélé avec les risques liés à des comportements criminels ou dangereux. L'engagement des répondants envers l'individualisme était également corrélé avec les risques liés aux comportements criminels et dangereux, mais différait du hiérarchisme en ce que l'individualisme n'était pas corrélé avec les perceptions de risques liés à la prostitution et à la consommation de marijuana. L'engagement des répondants envers le fatalisme était fortement corrélé avec la perception des risques liés aux vaccins. Ces conclusions sont renforcées par les résultats d'une question d'enquête qui apprécie dans quelle mesure ces prédispositions culturelles correspondent aux mythes de la nature supposés par la théorie culturelle, et par une expérience d'enquête qui teste comment les engagements culturels prédisent les risques perçus à partir d'un pipeline controversé.

Type
Research Article/Étude originale
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadienne de science politique) and/et la Société québécoise de science politique 2020

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Footnotes

Replication materials for this paper can be found at https://doi.org/10.5683/SP2/DWBACD

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