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2001-1203 - TASA-Conference - Unsettling Accounts: Childcare Workers and Narratives of Risk
TASA 2001 Conference, The University of Sydney, 13–15 December 2001
Karen McMillan, Alison Jones, and Heather Worth

Institute for Research on Gender, University of Auckland

Everyday activities such as eating, sex and looking after children were once considered ‘common sense’. Now they are increasingly regulated by discourses of risk and safety. This paper, taking a ‘case study’ approach, considers the ways that risk is (re)constructed and played out in contemporary anxieties about male childcare workers. It suggests that in a ‘risk society’ moral judgments are ultimately recast in terms of risk assessment – which has little to do with ‘actual’ risk, but much to do with the convergences of old and new ‘expert’ discourses and influential social movements. It investigates a specific instantiation of risk anxiety in New Zealand; one through which (particularly male) childcare workers become considered a high risk category of person – both in terms of their risk to children (as abusers) and in terms of the risk they run of accusation of abuse.