Popularity does matter: Situating social capital research in risk communication practice

Date created: 
Risk Communication
Social Capital Theory
Community Engagement
Social Networks
Canadian Disaster Studies

The impacts of hazards greatly depend on the social landscape of a society. In order to fully anticipate them, all stakeholders need to be involved in risk management processes. Risk communication, which encourages a two-way flow of communication for addressing risks, is a vital practice for effective mitigation but has been proven difficult, especially in urban, diverse societies. Here, I confront this challenge. I use social capital theory to frame my research in order to better understand the impact of social networks on processes inherent to risk communication and management, such as public participation, community engagement, and stakeholder collaboration. Borrowing from related concepts such as Mark Granovetter’s (1973) strength of weak ties theory and Nan Lin’s (1999) social network approach, I conduct an interview study in Surrey, BC. An analysis of stakeholder activity and communication reveals alternative methods for reaching the South Asian community—a local ethnic group found to be disengaged from risk communication processes. Ultimately, the framework illuminates novel ways to exercise local resources for improving engagement, which supports the integration of social capital theory into the pre-disaster phase of risk management.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Anderson
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.