Social Unrest

image of Social Unrest

This report develops a framework of social unrest within a complex understanding of systemic risk.  The goal is to  try to identify triggers (events that lead to social unrest) and drivers (causal roots) for the emergence of social unrest and, based on this functional analysis, to design policy options on how to avoid, mitigate or handle unrest. The framework should enable a better understanding of the circumstances that may trigger social unrest, how intensely that unrest is likely to materialize and what interventions promise  to de-escalate the conflict or even prevent social unrest in the first place.   Since social unrest is more a process of escalation than a finite state of the world, the term has been conceptualized in a step-by-step escalation scheme.   Each step makes social unrest more severe. It is a gradual framework that identifies the different stages that make social unrest more and more probable. In order to identify relevant drivers and cluster of drivers, three case studies are investigated:  pandemics, cyber-related risk and financial crises. The main question is how did or could these events cause social unrests.  In a second step, an analytic model is used to capture the combined effects learned from the case study analysis. In a third step,the IRGC risk governance model for explaining the risk of social unrest or predicting the consequences of social unrest is applied. Finally , guidelines for normative governance with respect to social unrest are developed.


Characterizing social unrest as systemic risk

The focus in this chapter will be on the connection between systemic risks and social unrest. The question is in what way social unrests can be seen as systemic risks or at least as a part a systemic risk and what analytical consequences will follow from this analysis. For this purpose we will use a typology of risks that has been developed by the IRGC for their framework of risk governance. The model has been explicitly designed to apply to systemic risks and seems to be one of the most articulated models within risk research (IRGC, 2006; IRGC, 2008; Renn et al., 2007; Renn, 2008). Within this concept risks are ordered according to their dominant characteristics. Systemic risks show the following characteristics: complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and spill-over effects.


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