Flooding as a form of risk : an examination of knowledge in practice
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The thesis examines the contemporary conception of the socio-environmental issue of flooding in England and Wales. The focus is on the policy and expert spheres and the current understanding of the issue as it is represented in these discursive domains. This qualitative research involved three distinct methods semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observation. The interviews were carried out with key figures that worked in differing roles in organisations and institutions involved in tackling flooding. At one level the assertions in the thesis concern the connections being made between flooding and climate change and the implications of this for approaches to tackling floods. At another level they relate to the emergence of a pervasive risk discourse in relation to flooding. Theoretical ideas from time (Adam 1997 1998 2004) and risk theory (Beck 1992a 1994 1996 2000 Luhmann 1993) are utilised to provide a conceptual analysis of the nascent discourses of climate change and risk, through which flooding is understood as a contemporary problem. In this thesis the conceptual and empirical analyses are bought together in establishing questions relating to the emergence of a prevalent risk discourse and what this means for approaches to flooding in contemporary England and Wales. The analysis has produced a picture of a complex and paradoxical context in which efforts are made to address flooding. The thesis offers insights into the difficulties in finding ways of establishing practices appropriate to the knowledge(s) through which flooding is understood as a contemporary problem. The research creates deeper understanding of the issues associated with tackling flooding in contemporary England and Wales and opens up spaces for the kind of reflection that is important for pursuing and enabling change.