The Politics of Online Risk and the Discursive Construction of School “E-Safety”
Following the introduction of widespread internet access into educational institutions across most—if not all—industrialized countries, it is possible to discern the common emergence of a school “e-safety” agenda, driven primarily by the publications of government-funded bodies and commercial organizations. In the United Kingdom—as in many other cases—central to this agenda is the notion that children are at risk online. In this context, “risk refers to the probability of damage, injury, illness, death or other misfortune associated with hazard. Hazards are generally defined to mean a threat to people and what they value” (Furedi, 2006, p. 25). Yet as this chapter will endeavor to show, these risks are not “absolute truths,” rather they are selected (Douglas & Wildavsky, 1982, p. 29). This is not to deny that real dangers exist but rather to emphasize that a choice is made regarding which hazards to focus upon. Consequently, decisions regarding which risks should be causes for public concern, and the precise nature of such “hazards,” are always political in nature. Thus, it follows that the school e-safety agenda should not be seen merely as an attempt to care for the well-being of children, but also to impose particular ways of seeing and behaving.
KeywordsInformation Communication Technology Online Risk Adult Risk Risk Discourse Internet Safety
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