Reasonable Risk is written by Marjana Martinic and Barbara Leigh. It examines the aura of risk surrounding alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been an integral part of many cultures around the world for thousands of years, with most people drinking because they enjoy it. For some alcohol can provide benefit within a healthy lifestyle. However, for others alcohol consumption can represent considerable risk to health and well being.
The risks inherent in drinking are in many ways no different from other risks that we encounter across many activities, but how the inherent riskiness of drinking is viewed varies considerably depending on the individual, groups and national cultures. Finding the appropriate niche for alcohol in the panopoly of risks is a complicated and challenging task.
The authors of the book explore perceptions of risk and how we assess and manage risks, especially those related to alcohol, as well as how these risks are communicated to the public and addressed by policy.
Chapter one deals with perceptions of risk. In our modern world, risks and judgements about risk present a paradox: Although people today are generally healthier and safer than ever before, they feel more vunerable and more concerned about risk, much of this arising from new technologies and environmental hazards. Culture is one of the most significant influence in how we view risk in lifestyle choices. This includes the consumption of alcohol.
Chapter two goes on to examine components of culture that influence the construction of risk, ways to maintain boundaries and minimise potential harm, as well as examining the place of alcohol within society and our shifting perspective on its intrinsic risk.
Chapter three offers an overview of what is involved in interpreting studies on risk and what the results and related scientific jargon mean, whilst chapter four examines how we strive to make sense of the risk information we have been given, looking at those communicating risk information, the role they play and qualifications that allow them to assume this role.
Chapter five explores how we weigh the equation and whether the outcomes of drinking are acceptable to us as individuals and to society as a whole. The final chapter focuses on how alcohol policies are developed within the context of individual and societal responsibility and the entities that are involved in the formation of these policies. It examines the role of those involved in policy development, including government,non governmental organisations, the private sector and society in general.
The book seeks to offer the educated “layman” a clear and comprehensible explanation of the elements that contribute to how we view risks in general, particularly those associated with alcohol consumption. The risk that we face have a hierarchy. Some are life threatening whilst other are an inconvenience. If we are to understand the risks that confront us and manage them effectively, it is important that we understand where they fit into the overall order of things, and why they concern us in the way they do.