Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Logics of Justification Within Communication of Risks

Christian Foussard1,2,a, Wim Van Wassenhove2,b and Cédric Denis-Rémis2,c

1Consultant Risk Management & Process Safety, Senior Lecturer, New York, USA /EADDRESS/
2IHEIE - Institute for Higher Education in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, MINES Paris, PSL University, France.


On September 26, 2019, a large-scale fire affected the Lubrizol industrial site in Rouen, France. The management of the consequences of the accident gave rise to the implementation of an original body within the variety of existing mechanisms of citizen participation on industrial risks: "the Transparency and Dialogue Committee" (then mentioned as TDC). This committee brought together various actors concerned by the consequences of the fire. Its intended purpose was to monitor over time all the issues related to the consequences of the accident and to share all the information available. The content of the minutes of the ten sessions of the TDC which were held between 2019 and 2021 are considered under the background of the economy of worth as proposed by Boltanski & Thevenot which provide a theoretical framework of the dynamics linked to the presence of multiple rationalities. An economy of worth stipulates what things count, how, and in what ordered hierarchy, thereby offering a coherent space within which people interact. Instead of seeking for the determinants of the behavior of individuals, the objective of the study is rather to see how they construct and use argumentative resources in situations where they are led to justify their claims. This specific structure for citizen participation on industrial risks provides materials to analyze the potential foundations of agreement and the necessity to justify through this "test of justification". In that kind of test, the actors refer to specific principles. This paper presents how the Transparency and Dialogue Committee can be analyzed through the different "logics of justification" used, in what extend these logics respond to public concerns and which "common superior principles" would be valuable candidate to resolve conflicts and try to reach an agreement between the stakeholders.

Keywords: Justification, Risk governance, Industrial risks, Risk communication, Economy of worth.

Download PDF