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The communication of technological risk has become a subject of research interest because of practical problems in the exchange of technical information on matters of health and safety between different groups. An important assumption is implicit in much of the work in the field: that the effectiveness of communciations can be judged by the extent to which they lead to a resolution of perceptual differences and conflicts of outlook between different social groups. This paper argues that, judged by such a criterion, successful risk communication is fundamentally unattainable, because social conflict is a sign of value differences and conflicts of interest within society. Past research in risk perception and cognitive science, as well as basic democratic ethics indicates that the effectiveness of risk communications should be judged in a different manner, that is, by the extent to which they satisfy the needs of their audience in resolving uncertainties about how to behave in the face of perceived threats.

Additional information

Authors: CANNELL W, Civil Aviation Authority, London (GB);OTWAY H, JRC Ispra Estab. (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Article: Futures, Vol. 20 (1988), pp. 519-531
Record Number: 198910339 / Last updated on: 1994-12-01
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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