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Hanoi consumers' point of view regarding food safety risks : An approach in terms of social representation

Figuié M., Bricas N., Vu Pham Nguyen Thanh, Nguyen Duc Truyen. 2004. Vietnam Social Sciences, 3 (101) : p. 63-72. World Congress of Rural Sociology. 11, 2004-07-25/2004-07-30, Trondheim (Norvège).

This paper makes an analysis of consumer point of view regarding the sanitary risks related to food consumption. Based on a case study of consumers in Hanoi (Vietnam), it shows that this point of view must be analysed in terms of social representation in order to understand the complexity and the social dimension of the interface between risk and the individual. The social representation is analysed using three components: information, attitude and anchorage. Perceived gravity and frequency (of risks) are used to characterise the component "information ", declared fear (by consumers) for the component "attitude" and trust (in food quality) for the component "anchorage". This approach shows that consumers of Hanoi are aware of food safely risks, and estimate that available foodstuffs are actually dangerous. However, because they trust in their own practices (of purchasing and preparing food) they do not fear foodborne diseases greatly. This trust might be over enthusiastic. It may just be a way for consumers to reassure themselves, in a context where their demand for insurance, is built in from past domestic and civic co-ordination, yet is not satisfied in the context of urbanisation and economic liberalisation.

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