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Biothreat and policy pathways: influences upon current bioterrorism policies in the UK

By Kai-Bastian Ilchmann


The threat of terrorism, and in particular the threat of terrorists using\ud biological weapons, has grown since the early 1990s, over the decade the\ud assessment and perception of threat escalated despite an absence of biological\ud weapons use.\ud \ud This research explores policy responses to the threat from bioterrorism in\ud the UK between 1990 and 2005. A case study approach is used to examine the\ud emergence and rise of the bioterrorism threat, and the institutional\ud arrangement in place to confront that threat. The dissertation further\ud investigates the construction of the threat narrative. The policy area of\ud bioterrorism is obscured by secrecy. Therefore, this dissertation looks towards\ud policy responses to pandemic influenza, and uses responses to pandemic\ud influenza as a heuristic device to illustrate the difficulties of risk assessment\ud and the accompanying institutional complexity.\ud \ud The study posits that traditional, academic risk assessment\ud methodologies do not appear to have as large an influence as the narratives.\ud Furthermore, the prevailing conceptualisation of the bioterrorism threat is the\ud product of the confluence of three threat narratives. These narratives have\ud become entangled and subsequently embedded in the institutional response.\ud Moreover, a number of events have influenced and shaped the threat\ud narrative of bioterrorism. First, a change in perception (sarin, 1995); then a\ud jolt to the political and institutional structures (September 11, 2001); and\ud finally, further bombings and plots have augmented the threat narrative\ud (Madrid & London).\ud \ud This study is positioned at the intersection of policy studies and risk\ud assessment, contributing to an understanding of the formation of institutional\ud threat perception

Topics: H, UG0447.8
Year: 2012
OAI identifier:

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