Understanding risk communication: the acceptability of risk communication in a multilingual Europe
Understanding Risk Communication: The Acceptability of Risk Communication in a Multilingual Europe Zahra Esmail Bergische Universität Wuppertal (Germany) IDRC Davos 2012
Presentation Overview • Zahra Esmail- brief introduction • Project Overview: Understanding Risk Communication • Previous research on Risk Communication (perception) • Why is Risk Communication development so Important? • Future research needs
Zahra Esmail (M.A) • Born and raised in London, England • German and Linguistics (B.A) (Queen Mary University of London) • Applied Linguistics (M.A) (TU Dortmund) • Currently: research fellow and doctoral student at Bergische University Wuppertal
Understanding Risk Communication: The Acceptability of Risk Communication in a Multilingual Europe • The acceptability of Risk Communication in Europe • To raise the awareness of socio-linguistic factors as inﬂuences on Risk Communication process • Suggestions for the further development of Risk Communication in light of a growing multilingual society • Citizens better prepared for possible nuclear catastrophes
Risk Communication Risk Communication aims to: - Enhance knowledge and understanding - Build trust and credibility - Encourage appropriate behaviors • Communication on potential risks BEFORE the risk event occurs • Typically: security ofﬁcial-citizen
Risk Communication Research • Previously saw risk communication process as one-way communication- receivers of information in a more passive role • Risks are actively perceived by the individual! • Previous research has failed to include focus on social and cultural factors of risk perception • Messages are to be understood within a sociocultural context!
The need for further development of Risk Communication How are such traditional forms of RC understood? e.g. “Threat” “human behaviour depends on perception, not on facts” (Renn)
Inﬂuences on risk perception • Culture (sub-culture) of the individual (Slovic, Douglas and Wildavsky) • Gender differences in the perception of risks (Gustafson) • Language use (expert vs. layperson communicative means) (Covello) • Means by which message is communicated (e.g. radio, television broadcast) and the trustworthyness of the source
The Socio-Cultural Inﬂuences on Risk Perception (Model) Hazard Family/ Risk speciﬁc Peers/ RC Culture beliefs and Community biases General Individual Characteristic s RC Context Risk Perception Individual/Mass Responses RC Message
Socio-cultural inﬂuences on risk perception: the linguistics of the message Risk Communication culture/risk communicationmessage: • Expert vs Laypeople language (scientiﬁc language) • Non verbal signals (75% of the message) • Translations of risk communication • Culture = the way that we think (messages are culture/context dependant)
Model: Risk Perception- an Explanation • This model demonstrates: • The complexity of relation between variables • The several variables which act as inﬂuences on risk perception • Risk perception leads to individual responses and ultimate risk reducing behavior • The message itself (i.e. the linguistic components of the message) can affect perception
Why is this particularly important today? • Multilingual societies are increasing, as countries continue to work closer together • New levels of threats are emerging - the need for resilient societies is greater than ever • New levels of threats require a greater collaboration effort between countries (transnational cooperation means a common understanding)
Why is this particularly important today? • Lack of knowledge on nuclear threats can lead to unprepared society: • Mass panic, hysteria, rioting, looting • Spreading of unreliable information • A well informed society= resilient society!
Further Research I • Linguistic inﬂuences on risk communication process need to be highlighted • The cultural aspect of perception must be taken into consideration • Other possible inﬂuences such as political afﬁliations must be explored!
Further Research II • Risk Communication must be further developed as citizen oriented • Research must include citizen opinions and perceptions • Subcultures in society (and their respective language uses) • The inclusion of social media in RC?
Thank you for your Attention! Zahra Esmail (M.A.) Bergische Universität Wuppertal firstname.lastname@example.org