Domination of or adaptation to nature? a lesson we can still learn from the vajont


  • Chiara Bianchizza Institute of International Sociology of Gorizia (ISIG), Gorizia, Italy
  • Simone Frigerio Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica (CNR IRPI), Padova, Italy



"Risk perception" for social science implies that risk can be judged through mental models embedded in social/cultural environments and shaped by media and peer influences. This paper reviews risk perception dynamics in Vajont case. The disaster of 1963 left a strong mark on morphology and history of the communities and in the national public opinion. The event determined the end of a local approach to inhabiting a territory. While inhabitants of Piave valley had adapted to the mountain environment, the national project of producing hydroelectricity embodied a new modernity, aimed at human domination of nature. The paper analyses public opinion perception about Vajont, both locally and at national level. Local community had opposed to the dam project due to the known instability of the terrain. The national press after the tragedy talked instead about "nature’s unpredictability". The paper investigates the contrast between local and experts’ knowledge. The paper also investigates the influence of cultural background in shaping risk perceptions. On the one hand, local communities viewed risks as factors determining adaptation. On the other, the State considered risks as nuisances that could be controlled. The Vajont case is an important example to be taken into account in the perspective of future developments for territorial management.




How to Cite

Bianchizza, C., & Frigerio, S. (2013). Domination of or adaptation to nature? a lesson we can still learn from the vajont. Italian Journal of Engineering Geology and Environment, 523–530.

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