Publication Details

Sword-Daniels, V., Eriksen, C., Hudson-Doyle, E. E., Alaniz, R., Adler, C., Schenk, T. & Vallance, S. (2018). Embodied uncertainty: living with complexity and natural hazards. Journal of Risk Research, 21 (3), 290-307.


In this paper, we examine the concept of embodied uncertainty by exploring multiple dimensions of uncertainty in the context of risks associated with extreme natural hazards. We highlight a need for greater recognition, particularly by disaster management and response agencies, of uncertainty as a subjective experience for those living at risk. Embodied uncertainty is distinguished from objective uncertainty by the nature of its internalisation at the individual level, where it is subjective, felt and directly experienced. This approach provides a conceptual pathway that sharpens knowledge of the processes that shape how individuals and communities interpret and contextualise risk. The ways in which individual characteristics, social identities and lived experiences shape interpretations of risk are explored by considering embodied uncertainty in four contexts: social identities and trauma, the co-production of knowledge, institutional structures and policy and long-term lived experiences. We conclude by outlining the opportunities that this approach presents, and provide recommendations for further research on how the concept of embodied uncertainty can aid decision-making and the management of risks in the context of extreme natural hazards.

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