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Title: Social amplification and policy making : understanding the roles of power and expertise in public health risk communication
Author: Adekola, Josephine Unekwu
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 7129
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis presents detailed accounts of policymaking in contemporary risk communication arenas where strong power dynamics are at play, but which have hitherto lacked theoretical depth and empirical validation. Specifically, it expands on the understanding of how policy decisions are made where there is a weak evidential base and where multiple interpretations, power dynamics and values are brought to bear on public health risk issues. The aim of the study is to understand the role of power and expertise in public health risk communication as it relates to policy making. This research describes case studies and relied largely upon published sources of data because it was determined that these captured stakeholder inputs, reflected the debates, drew differentially on evidence and experts, would provide greater insight to each of the cases and were more readily comparable across cases. These sources included published peer reviewed articles, press releases, statements and official documents from government departments and organisations, reports from non-governmental organisations, scientific committee reports, media and newspaper sources. The findings indicate that public health risk communication as it relates to policy making is a process embedded in institutional, productive and structural dimensions of power. This suggests that there are several underlying (and salient) mechanisms of power that shape how risk is communicated and in particular, whose expertise is called upon and whose voices are heard. Further analysis of the cases indicates that ‘power’ in public health risk communication may be expressed through technical expertise, control of communication and creation of trust (through scientific credibility) such that an argument (within a set of risk arguments) may become amplified (or dominant) in the policy context. These findings are conceptualised into a new model - a policy evaluation risk communication (PERC) framework by identifying key themes that shape social amplification (or attenuation) of risk. The study contributes to the growing literature on risk communication by advancing knowledge about the role of power and expertise. Testing of the PERC framework further enabled this study to extend the existing conceptualisation of social amplification of risk framework (SARF) from the power and expertise perspective, and to inform the critique of the framework in extant literature. The study also shed light on policy making in situations of risk and uncertainty. Further research should aim at using primary data (such as elite interviews) in investigating the role of power and expertise in risk communication.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: H Social Sciences (General)