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Legitimacy Disputes and Social Amplification of Perceived Risk
Unformatted Document Text:  Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions     11   Observing almost three-month prolonged huge protests in South Korea over MCD, foreign bloggers wondered why thousands of South Koreans would join protests over importing American beef that Americans would not protest (Choe, 2008). But observers of the high-profile event argue that the historic South Koreans’ protest over the concern about mad cow disease cannot be explained either by the scientific fact or so-called probability-driven risk communication. Jang et al. (2010), using face-to-face interview with hundreds of participants of a candlelight rally, studied their knowledge of and attitudes toward imported U.S. beef in relation to human MCD. They found that rally participants over MCD had poor rates of correct medical information about the disease, but high rate of risk aversion despite the low chance of having the disease. They found that about sixty four percent of rally participants had incorrect medical information about human mad cow disease, and their stubbornness of not having imported U.S. beef was more emotion-driven than fact-driven. An emerging question is why South Korean government failed in soothing public fear of the MCD risk sooner but rather made the situation worse, which resulted in paralyzing the newly launched government for about three months. In this study, the researchers attempt to find the answer from issue publics’ evaluations of the government’s risk communication and decision for managing the risk issues. On the basis of review of literature on legitimacy and social amplification of risk, the researchers posit the following research questions. Research Questions 1: How have bloggers’ legitimacy disputes changed as a function of government’s risk communication?

Authors: Lim, Joon Soo., Mun, Kwansik. and Yang, Sung-Un.
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Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions   
 
 
11  
Observing almost three-month prolonged huge protests in South Korea over MCD, 
foreign bloggers wondered why thousands of South Koreans would join protests over 
importing American beef that Americans would not protest (Choe, 2008). But observers 
of the high-profile event argue that the historic South Koreans’ protest over the concern 
about mad cow disease cannot be explained either by the scientific fact or so-called 
probability-driven risk communication. Jang et al. (2010), using face-to-face interview 
with hundreds of participants of a candlelight rally, studied their knowledge of and 
attitudes toward imported U.S. beef in relation to human MCD. They found that rally 
participants over MCD had poor rates of correct medical information about the disease, 
but high rate of risk aversion despite the low chance of having the disease. They found 
that about sixty four percent of rally participants had incorrect medical information about 
human mad cow disease, and their stubbornness of not having imported U.S. beef was 
more emotion-driven than fact-driven. 
An emerging question is why South Korean government failed in soothing public 
fear of the MCD risk sooner but rather made the situation worse, which resulted in 
paralyzing the newly launched government for about three months. In this study, the 
researchers attempt to find the answer from issue publics’ evaluations of the government’s 
risk communication and decision for managing the risk issues.  
On the basis of review of literature on legitimacy and social amplification of risk, 
the researchers posit the following research questions.  
Research Questions 1: How have bloggers’ legitimacy disputes changed as a 
function of government’s risk communication?   


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