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Open AccessArticle

Social Representations of Natural Hazard Risk in Swiss Mountain Regions

1
Research Unit Economics and Social Sciences, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2
School of Business, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern FHNW, Riggenbachstrasse 16, CH-4600 Olten, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010002
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 12 December 2018 / Accepted: 13 December 2018 / Published: 20 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Hazards)
The term “risk” is connoted with divergent meanings in natural hazard risk research and the practice of risk management. Whilst the technical definition is accurately defined, in practice, the term “risk” is often synonymously used with “danger”. Considering this divergence as a deficiency, risk communication often aims to correct laypersons’ understanding. We suggest to instead treat the variety of meanings as a resource for risk communication strategies. However, there is however to date no investigation of what laypersons’ meanings of risk actually comprise. To address this gap, we examine the meanings of risk by applying a social representations approach within a qualitative case study research design. Results of the study among inhabitants of Swiss mountain villages show that differences in meanings were found according to hazard experience and community size. We found commonly shared core representations and peripheral ones. We conclude with suggestions on how to make usage of the knowledge on SR in risk communication. View Full-Text
Keywords: social representations; natural hazard risk; qualitative risk research; risk communication; Alpine hazards; risk management social representations; natural hazard risk; qualitative risk research; risk communication; Alpine hazards; risk management
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Maidl, E.; Buchecker, M. Social Representations of Natural Hazard Risk in Swiss Mountain Regions. Geosciences 2019, 9, 2.

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