Risk as a relational phenomenon: a cross-cultural analysis of parents’ understandings of child food allergy and risk management

Marie-louise Stjerna, Allison Worth, Jeni Harden, Sonja Olin Lauritzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Western culture can be seen as permeated by risk-consciousness. In particular, parents are under scrutiny in their roles as risk managers. In this article, we address parental experiences of children more at risk than other children, children with food allergy, and the management of allergy risk in everyday life. Drawing on a notion of risk as ‘situated’ in local everyday life, we argue that a further exploration of parental understandings of child food allergy risk would benefit from an analysis of studies across different local contexts. In this article, we draw on a secondary qualitative cross-cultural analysis of interview data from several studies of parents in Sweden and Scotland through 2006–2010, which focused on parents’ understandings of the nature of food allergy and the children’s management of the allergy risk. We found some common themes in the different data sets. First, parents depicted food allergy as life-threatening, a ‘death risk’ lurking in the background, more or less constantly present in different everyday situations, amounting to an existential condition in parenting. Second, they talked about food allergy risk as a relational phenomenon, meaning that the risk emerged in the encounter between the young person’s individual competence to manage allergy risk and the understandings of allergy risk in others – thus depending on contexts and interaction between several actors. Finally, the analysis showed that unpredictability and risk in constant flux are the prominent aspects of living with food allergy. We also discussed the ways risk and trust are related, as well as how the involvement of others can be seen as both a risk and a safeguard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-368
JournalHealth, Risk & Society
Volume19 (2017)
Issue number7-8
Early online date2 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk as a relational phenomenon: a cross-cultural analysis of parents’ understandings of child food allergy and risk management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this