Siting potentially hazardous facilities: what factors impact perceived and acceptable risk? Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper examines two explanations for the acceptance of technological facilities in a community. One explanation argues that facilities are accepted as a function of the benefits and inherent risks associated with the technology involved. The alternative explanation argues that facilities are accepted on the basis of the conditions of acceptability. Because the former posits that facilities are accepted as a function of the technology, policies based on this explanation attempt to redistribute the risks and benefits associated with technologies to achieve fairness. The latter suggests that the acceptance of facilities that pose risk to the community is as much a function of the conditions of acceptability as it is the type of technology involved. From this perspective policy should be sensitive to the process of siting, construction, operation and shutdown of the facility in the context of the comprehensive relationship between the technology and the community (i.e., in an ecological sense). Rather than focusing on the characteristics of the technology, this perspective focuses on the social institutional arrangements that make the technology acceptable. This paper examines six different technologies and eight separate conditions of acceptability in terms of public perception and acceptability of risk. The pattern of responses from a 1992 national survey of the United States reveal a stable pattern from technology to technology among the eight conditions of acceptability. The importance of the conditions examined in determining acceptability provides insight into the siting process by demonstrating an emphasis on sustainability through empowerment of self-determination.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Rogers, G. O.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Rogers, GO

publication date

  • January 1998