Social Representations of Risk in Cameroon: Influence of Sociopolitical and Cultural Context


  • Jean Claude Etoundi
  • Nicole Kay
  • Sandrine Gaymard


The threat of sociopolitical instability is a perennial subject of political debate in Cameroon, even though the country’s stability has never really been challenged since independence. Given this omnipresent discussion on the need to preserve social cohesion, the aim of the present study was to analyze social representations of risk. Two studies were carried out among two samples (N1 = 31 and N2 = 156) of Cameroonians with higher education diplomas. Data collected by means of free association and characterization questionnaires were subjected to hierarchical, similarity and Q-sort analyses. These revealed that governance failures are regarded as factors that might undermine social cohesion. Comparative analysis of the risk representations of the country’s different ethnic groups revealed several differences. Previous research had emphasized the importance of proximity to the object in the construction of a social representation, and this was also evident in the present study, as social representations of risk for both the whole sample and the different ethnic groups were structured around specific threats or ills that undermine Cameroonian society.