Social Construction of Road Safety: Lay and Professional Discourses in a Public Services Setting

Author: Hyde, Mark
Ball, Stephen
This book makes substantive contributions to the emergent field of road-safety issues, as well as the wider and established field of public policy. This empirically based, comprehensive and multidisciplinary study focuses on the challenging issues of road safety from the technical professional and lay-person perspectives. A truly fascinating work.


“This study makes a very significant contribution to our understanding of the challenges facing road safety…Drs. Ball and Hyde are to be congratulated for this excellent study of a dilemma-ridden area of local public services – road safety. It is in their words, “an exploration of the work of front-line highway engineers and their ‘encounters’ with the public…it focused on how issues of road safety are constructed and deliberated on both sides of the lay-professional divide.”
-Professor John Dixon,
Middle East Technical University,
Ankara, Turkey

“Ball and Hyde’s book provides the first comprehensive and multidisciplinary account of the problem of road-safety…what makes the book unique is that they approach the issue from the standpoint of phenomenology as well as construction theory…these theories are framed with extensive empirical work by the authors.”
-Professor Silvia Borzutzky,
Heinz College of Public Policy and Management,
Carnegie Mellon University

“The book is informative and comprehensive in its approach and offers an interesting blend of theory, research and discussion around an area of public life that many of us simply take for granted. It will be of use to professionals, academics and for those of us who acknowledge that we may not be as expert on the subject as we like to think, the general public.”
-Professor Adrian Barton,
School of Government,
Plymouth University, UK

“This book generates, examines and summarises key themes across both theory and practice, drawn from an extensive collection of empirical data applied to the notions of discourse theory and constructivism…the study creates a link between social theory in research and links this research to every day popular discourses as well as real world practice context.”
-Professor Rory Shand,
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

“A fascinating work on the issue of the technical pursuit of a solution to complex engineering problems…using grounded theory methodology they explore alternative construction and deliberation of addressing road safety issues...a highly contemporary and challenging issues surrounding this subject matter.”
-Dr. Glen Reynolds,
University of Sunderland, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Road Safety Studies: A Survey of the Field
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Public Service Reform
2.2.1 Introduction
2.2.2 The Limitations of Traditional Bureaucracy
2.2.3 Citizenship, Responsibility and Empowerment
2.2.4 Transparency and Accountability
2.2.5 Consumer and Choice
2.2.6 Managerialism versus Professionalism
2.3 Professions and Expertise
2.3.1 Introduction
2.3.2 Discretion and Autonomy
2.3.3 Monopoly, Self-Regulation and Credentialism
2.3.4 Specialised Discourse
2.3.5 Summary
2.4 Street-level Bureaucracy
2.4.1 Introduction
2.4.2 Rules and Rationality
2.4.3 Clients and Cases
2.4.4 Rationing and Resource Impoverishment
2.4.5 Discretion
2.4.6 Summary
2.5 Gap in Knowledge
3. Investigating Road Safety Studies Empirically
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Methodological Philosophy
3.2.1 Phenomenology
3.2.2 Discourse
3.2.3 Reflexivity
3.3 Ethical Considerations
3.3.1 Introduction
3.3.2 Avoiding Harm
3.3.3 Informed Consent
3.3.4 Legal Compliance
3.4 Methods
3.4.1 Introduction
3.4.2 Correspondence Dataset
3.4.3 Media Dataset
3.4.4 Interviews
3.5 The Development of Emergent Themes
3.5.1 Introduction
3.5.2 Theoretical Sampling
3.5.3 Open and Axial Coding
3.5.4 Memoing
3.5.5 Theoretical Sensitivity
3.5.6 Emergent Themes
3.5.7 Limitations of the Study
3.5.8 Summary
4. Safety as a Genre
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Purpose
4.3 Category Entitlement
4.4 The Issue
4.5 The Evidence
4.6 The Argument
4.7 The Request
4.8 The Morphology of a Sample Document
4.8.1 Introduction
4.8.2 Purpose
4.8.3 Issues
4.8.4 Evidence
4.8.6 The Request
4.8.7 Category Entitlement
4.8.8 Projection and Prediction
4.8.9 Register
4.8.10 Emphasis
4.8.11 Attribution of Blame
4.9 Summary
5.0 Contested Space
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Exposure
5.3 Stigma and Bureaucracy
5.4 Non-Technical Aspects of Engineering
5.5 Struggling for Self Esteem
5.6 Summary
6.0 Managing the Public
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Encounters
6.3 Emotional Labour
6.4 Strategies
6.5 A Philosophy for Engagement
6.6 Summary
7.0 Lay Argumentative Strategies
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Bureaucratic Responsibilities
7.3 The Nanny State
7.4 Parochial Myopia
7.5 The Emotional Appeal
7.6 An Accident Waiting to Happen
7.7 The Prescriptive Nature of Issue Construction
7.8 The Engineering Perspective
7.9 Summary
8.0 Popular Epidemiology
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Solution to Everything
8.3 The Nanny State Revisited
8.4 Over-determination
8.5 Category Mistakes
8.6 An Engineering Philosophy of Praxis
8.7 Summary
9.0 Conclusion
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Reification and Ascription of Pathology
9.3 Argumentative Adequacy and ‘Instant Expertise’
9.4 First person Testimony and Inscrutability
9.5 The Moral Status of Road Safety Issues
9.6 Communication Breakdown and lay-professional Discord
9.7 Epistemic Justification and Warranted Assert ability
9.8 Being an Engineer and Professional Voice
Appendix A: A Glossary of Conceptual Terms
Appendix B: Anthology of ‘An accident waiting to happen’ and variants
Appendix C: A Typology of Projections
Appendix D: Examples of Reification from the Local Print Media
Author Index
Subject Index