Global warming and the consequent increase in natural disasters have influenced global risk prevention worldwide. Although scientific progress has improved the prediction of risks scenarios, there are examples indicating there is a gap between scientific knowledge and the ways communities perceive risks. In this context, this empirical research aims to understand the communication gaps and social aspects that could explain the disconnection between the scientific world and communities at risk. This research analyses an interface fire that occurred in Valparaiso, Chile, in 2014, which has been the worst wildfire in the city’s history. From a critical rhetoric of risk communication approach, this exploration concludes that in Valparaiso, top-down communication practices took place and communities at risk played an isolated and marginalized role, illustrating the predominance of a crisis management approach and a top-down information flow. This case highlights the critical role played by intermediaries, as key supports in the process and as central players able to fill communication gaps.
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Thesis advisor: Anderson, Peter
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