How do European Union (EU) member states communicate risks to their citizens? In this study, we define risk communication as the information provided by different levels of government to citizens regarding possible future crises to which the general public might be subjected. We seek to answer the following questions: Are there any patterns in the risk communication strategies among EU member states in terms of the sender of information, the message conveyed, the method used, and the intended audience? Finally, to what extent is the state involved in ensuring the safety of its citizens? To tackle these questions, we examine the risk communication strategy of eight countries: Sweden, Finland, Germany, England, France, Estonia, Greece, and Cyprus. Our data consist of governmental web sites, publications, campaigns, and other modes of communication, such as videos posted on YouTube, with questions centering on institutional actors, methods of delivery, content, and effectiveness. We find that the institutional architecture of risk communication aligns with the broad administrative system of each member state. Countries tend to focus on risks that are specific to their context, with Sweden and, to a lesser extent, Germany having a special focus on consequences and providing guidelines to the public on how to survive for a certain period of time in the absence of the state. Especially in Sweden, though the state is a salient actor in risk communication through the dissemination of information at the agency level, the state retreats while urging the resilient citizen to take control of his or her own crisis management.
Author ORCID Identifier
Petridou, E., Danielsson, E., Olofsson, A., Lundgren, M., & Große, C. (2019). If crisis or war comes: A study of risk communication of eight European Union member states. Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research, 2(2), 207-232. https://doi.org/10.30658/jicrcr.2.2.3