The theme of this project is the role of citizen-consumers in modern risk perception and risk assessment. As the household is the crucial setting in everyday life we will focus on household vulnerability in situations where infrastructures break down, with prolonged fall-outs of public services as a result.
More specifically, the project shall concentrate on energy service systems and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Within this framework we ask how individuals/households can prepare themselves for breakdowns in such fundamental societal services.
To maximize the utility of the anticipated findings the project will apply a comparative approach along two dimensions: (i) vertically by linking households’ management with national crisis plans, thus addressing the relationship between planning and reality; and (ii) horizontally by comparing risk regimes in Norway, Sweden and Iceland.
In all three countries, public institutions have developed plans and scenarios on how to deal with crisis situations of this kind, plans that with necessity influence ordinary citizen-consumers' crisis handling. Yet, these plans are of a rather simple form and often unrealistic as practical aides for people. This constitutes a serious security problem as they will be of limited help in crisis situations.
This project thus starts from the contention that a serious shortcoming of crisis planning is that there is a lack of knowledge about how ordinary people will behave and what resources they represent in coping with crises. The household is central in people’s lives, hence necessitating studies of what characterizes life in households, the resources that are linked to domestic life and how such resources can be put to use in crisis situations.
The study places a special focus both on the technology-related vulnerabilities that everyday life entails, as well as social networks that all households are woven into. It is maintained that only on the background of such information the authorities will be able to develop effective, life-saving plans for crisis management. The proposed project’s design will maximize the utility of the findings so that the knowledge generated from the project can be of significant value to crisis planning.