Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN22_05: Public Discourses and Media Representations of Risk
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Maria Grazia Galantino, Sapienza University of Rome
Location: UP.4.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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Narrating Risk or Debating International Relations? Critical Analysis of Media Discourses on Climate Change

Audronė Telešienė, Eimantė Zolubienė

Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania

The aim is to critically analyse the ways that climate change (CC) related risks are being narrated in online news discourses. We draw upon 323 texts sampled through multistage criteria sampling from most popular news portals in Lithuania – and (av. of 1 mln unique monthly visitors) during Nov 2017 – Nov 2018. Fairclough’s three dimensional model of critical discourse analysis (Fairclaugh 1992, 2013) is employed. Analysis is conducted using MAXQDA.

The initial linguistic analysis allows insights into the dominant narratives. The presentation will discuss what risk-objects and objects-at-risk are communicated (following the relational theory of risk; Boholm, Corvellec 2011); what discourse actors are presented as active subjects. The preliminary results show that CC is most often related to health issues (31% of texts), temperature changes (17%), food issues (33% of texts).

Yet the intrigue is in the frequent appearance of political figures as active subjects. E.g. words related to leadership are used 201 times, in 58% of texts; Russia is mentioned 378 times (68% of texts). The political figures speak of topics that compete with risk narratives (be it warning, mobilizing or other). Is the CC discourse becoming yet another arena for political power consolidation? This debate question will also be addressed during the conference.

The research project ‘Public Perceptions of Climate Change: Lithuanian case in a European Comparative Perspective’ is funded by a grant (No. MIP‐17-126/SV3-0511) from the Research Council of Lithuania.

Framing Safety in Nuclear Waste Disposal: Comparing Finland and France

Matti Kojo1, Markku Lehtonen2, Tapio Litmanen3, Mika Kari1,3, Tuija Jartti1,3

1Tampere University, Finland; 2University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain; 3University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Among forerunners in developing final disposal of high-level nuclear waste, Finland and France differ strikingly in terms of two crucial features for radioactive waste management (RWM) policy: requirements for reversibility and monitoring of the repository, and the degree of public trust in RWM institutions. In the Finnish ‘high-trust society’, the disposal concept is based on the idea of passive safety, i.e. no monitoring is required in the future after the closure of the repository. By contrast, in France – called sometimes a ‘society of mistrust’– legislation stipulates that the project must be reversible, and the repository and its environment remain under constant monitoring for a period of several centuries. These countries have therefore adopted different means of building trust in the waste disposal solution and trust in the organisations responsible for RWM.

This paper critically examines the dynamic interplay between waste disposal concept, its monitoring, trust, and mistrust in these two countries’ RWM policies. By applying frame analysis, we examine the minutes of parliamentary sessions and news articles from the countries' leading daily newspapers – Helsingin Sanomat and Le Monde, especially the ways in which these news media and the various societal actors represented in the debate have defined problems and solutions relating to safety, trust, and repository monitoring. Our analysis illustrates the context-dependence of the roles of trust and monitoring in RWM policy, the interdependence between trust and monitoring solutions, and suggests that the potential virtues of mistrust have been underestimated, notably in literature on companies’ “social licence to operate”.

Threats, Violence, Anger and Attacks in Institutions of Education – Public Discourses on Probability, Reasons and Solutions

Nina Blom Andersen

University College Copenhagen, Denmark

The findings in this presentation relate to a larger two-year Danish research project that studies threats, violence, anger and attacks in institutions of higher education in which the concern of unexpected incidents caused by premeditation has occurred lately. In Denmark, educational institutions are only sparsely required to plan, prevent and act in certain ways concerning cases of e.g. deliberative attacks - the field is still characterized by lack of regulation and official requirements. There is nonetheless a growing awareness among institutions, experts and in media if violent and fatal attacks will occur.

The study presented investigates the emergence of a public discourses on the potential threat of a violent attack on institutions of education in Denmark. The distinct character of this analysis is that it covers the preliminary occurrence of a discourse on risk that is well known and acknowledged internationally, though not experienced in Denmark since 1994.

The method applied is a combination of framing analysis (Entman 1993), media text analysis (Gamson & Modigliani 1989) and analyses of official plans of emergency from the entire population of Danish University colleges (Jørgensen & Phillips 1999), which serves as a case. The research questions that guide these analyses are: How is probability of, reasons for and potential solutions to violent attacks in educational institutions framed and presented in Danish public discourses?

The investigation is an example of the early enactment (Law 2004; Mol 2002) of a potential risk still not stabilized in the national context investigated.

"Risk Communication In The Social Space: The Reconstruction Of The Risk Communication In The Local Community"

Efim Fidrya, Olga Fidrya

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Russian Federation

The aim of our project is to reveal the structure, stages and the sequence of the risk communication in the local community in relation to the structural, social and cultural features of the communication agents (on the example of the risks related to the potassium salt mine development in the settlement of Nivenskoye of the Kaliningrad region). Namely: to reveal the risk images existent in the public imagination, the opinions about the nature, causes and consequences of these risks, to determine the structure of the participants of the risk communication and their position within the social space, along with the order and content of risk communication, and to determine the key factors (social, political, economic, spatial, demographic) shaping the perception of risks and the extent and the nature of their effect.

The structural model of the social space of the local community to be presented constructed with regard to its attitude towards risks, comprising of:

- subgroups characterized by various social, political and cultural attitudes;

- the features and characteristics of the communication in the local community;

- their attitudes towards mass media sources;

- people’s attitudes towards risks, perception of their nature, causes and those who’s in charge for them, according to the social, political and cultural attitudes and demographic characteristics.