Mainstreaming risk reduction into self-build housing: the negligible role of perceptions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Downloads (Pure)


This article unpacks the relationship between risk perceptions and responses in cities of the global south. It first challenges the assumption that people are irrational and/or lack the ability to comprehend risk when they do not prioritize risk reduction. Second, it argues that the nature of risk perceptions has less direct influence on responses than previous research suggests. A social constructivist approach is applied to explore how individuals process risk and to what extent these perceptions shape preparedness activities. Results are based on ethnographic research in Cochabamba city in Bolivia, where everyday climatic hazards are linked to slow-onset and small-scale impacts. Findings first suggest that people comprehend risk in sophisticated ways. Then through exploration of self-build housing and the adoption of an anthropocentric conceptualization of the house, the article shows that people with high- and low-risk perceptions equally prepare for the impacts of climatic hazards. This is because people prioritize the transformation and consolidation of social, cultural and economic processes which are not directly related to risk reduction when designing and constructing self-built houses. However, disaster risk reduction is automatically mainstreamed into housing because the design and construction features which people associate with risk reduction represent local architectural norms that are associated with ‘good practice’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages13
JournalClimate and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2017

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


Dive into the research topics of 'Mainstreaming risk reduction into self-build housing: the negligible role of perceptions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this