Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Cellular Phones, Public Fears, and a Culture of Precaution

Cellular Phones, Public Fears, and a Culture of Precaution


  • Date Published: November 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521520829

£ 34.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This is the first account of the health panic surrounding cellular phones that developed in the mid-1990s. Treating the issue as more 'social construction' than evident scientific problem, it tells the story of how this originally American anxiety diffused internationally, having an even bigger impact in countries such as Italy. Burgess highlights the contrasting reactions to the issue ranging from positive indifference in Finland to those such as the UK where precautionary measures were taken. These differences are located within the emergence of a precautionary culture driven by institutional insecurity that first appeared in the US and is now most evident in Europe. Anxieties about cell phone radiowaves are also situated historically in the very different reactions to technologies such as x-rays and in the more similar 'microwave suspicions' about television. In addition, Burgess outlines a history and sociology of what is, despite media-driven anxieties, a spectacularly successful device.

    • The first in-depth study on the subject
    • Based on entirely original comparative research
    • The subject of the book is the most popular communications technology of our time
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Adam Burgess's fascinating and frequently polemical book highlights the perils of precautionary thinking.' The Lancet

    'Burgess' book remains a salutary lesson in the social construction of fears, which will undoubtedly be used to inform similar episodes in the years ahead.' Spiked

    'I found it thought-provoking and can strongly recommend it as a fascinating study of the interaction between science and society.' Tony Barker, consultant clinical scientist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital and chairman of the IEE's Policy Advisory Group on Biological Effects of Low-level Electromagnetic Fields

    '… Burgess's study of mobile phones contains a general and worrying message of small or non-existent risk being emphasised to advance social policy and influence the direction of scientific research.' The British Medical Journal

    '… Adam Burgess' important book is the first major work to examine the history and dynamics of the scare.' New Media and Society

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521520829
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introductory chapter: themes, influences
    phones and risk
    2. The mobile 'revolution'
    3. Mobile discontents and the origins of microwave fears
    4. Radiating uncertainty
    5. Diffusing anxiety: international dissemination and national responses to mobile fears
    6. The culture of precaution
    7. Problems of precaution and responsibility.

  • Author

    Adam Burgess, University of Bath

Related Books

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.