Title: Risk culture and crisis communication

Authors: Kerstin Dressel

Addresses: Sine-Institut gGmbH, Lilienstr. 3, D-81669 Munich, Germany

Abstract: This paper continues with the discourse on risk cultures that was prominently conducted in social science in the 1980s and 1990s. Though several authors applied different framings to risk culture, the basic idea was that late modern societies should be considered, in general, as risk societies or risk cultures. Taking and building upon this idea, this paper proposes its own approximation to the topic. The proposed framework shows several similarities to the cultural theory concept of Douglas and Wildavsky. However, whereas the cultural theory concept distinguishes between different societal subgroups and their specific way of dealing with risks, the framework suggested in this article distinguishes between risk cultures of a given society, which do not necessarily correspond to nation states. A typology distinguishing three different risk cultures is proposed, which emerged out of an empirical comparative study on socio-cultural factors of risk perception, alerting and crisis communication in Europe. The three different ideal-typical risk cultures found here are: individual-oriented, state-oriented and fatalistic. The typology is further elaborated and conclusions for crisis management and communication are drawn, which should allow the development of more appropriate communication measures to enhance compliance of citizens in case of disaster.

Keywords: risk culture; risk communication; crisis communication; comparative study; risk perception; crisis management; cultural theory; emergency management; emergency communication; Europe; fatalism; public institutions; individuals.

DOI: 10.1504/IJRAM.2015.069020

International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, 2015 Vol.18 No.2, pp.115 - 124

Received: 26 Oct 2013
Accepted: 30 Oct 2014

Published online: 24 Apr 2015 *

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