John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Weak signals and weak players in environmental health Volume 12, issue 4, Juillet-Août 2013

Université Rennes 2 ESO-Rennes UMR 6590 CNRS Place du recteur Henri-Le-Moal CS 24307 35043 Rennes cedex France

A sociological approach to identification of environmental health disorders by members of the public needs to examine the social foundations, i.e., the networks by which information is gathered and acquires a reality for a social group. Following current research on popular perceptions of cancers associated with pollution from waste product industries, we argue that these identifications are promoted by weak players, i.e., by people on the periphery, whose capacities for collective action are not recognized and whose access to the public space is limited. To promote their claims to a safe environment, they need social mediation capable of transforming the local situation they are rallying against into an emblematic case of a more general environmental health problem. In turn, this mediation affects the local definition of the health problem.