Responding to Flood Risk in the UK

  • Tim Harries
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 33)


This chapter considers the response of UK householders to the country’s most widespread and damaging natural hazard, flooding. Although flood risk affects 3 million UK residents and major floods in 1998, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2009 received extensive media coverage, few at-risk householders take any action to reduce their risk exposure. Research conducted in London, Reading and Leeds suggests that people who have insufficient confidence in their ability to manage their exposure to the material impacts of flooding choose instead to adopt anxiety-avoidance strategies such as blame and fatalism. These strategies protect social representations that enable citizens to achieve a feeling of safety in their lives but they also de-legitimise the discourse of risk mitigation. The research suggests that protection of self-identity and social identity also play a role. Only when traumatic or repeated experiences of flooding force changes to identity and make the retention of old representations untenable are these psychological strategies abandoned. When this occurs, individuals either learn to accept the existence of the risk or else fall into a state of disabling anxiety.


Social Identity Flood Risk Mitigation Measure Social Identity Theory Flood Risk Management 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behaviour and Practice Research Group, Business SchoolKingston University LondonKingston-upon-ThamesUK

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