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Legitimacy Disputes and Social Amplification of Perceived Risk
Unformatted Document Text:  Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions     15   has rapidly decreased, presumably the effect of government’s active promotion of its positions using traditional media channels as well as public relations tools. While government may have succeeded in reducing the cognitive legitimacy gap by actively controlling the risk communication on the traditional media, it faced severe protests from the public because of losing moral legitimacy. The shifts in legitimacy disputes among online publics discourse demonstrate government risk communication in the midst of PD Notebook’s series of investigative reports made some effects on online publics’ evaluations of the government risk communication. To explain the relationships between government public relations and online publics’ legitimacy disputes, we provide more qualitative analyses of content across the different time periods. Period 1: Before opening formalized risk communication. Legitimacy disputes in this period 1 was most affected by two events—(1) the deal between US and Korea to reopen Korea’s market for all US beef products from cattle of all ages (Hanrahan & Becker, 2008), and (2) MBC PD Notebook’s first investigative report on MCD issue for US beef. Many South Koreans found some cognitive legitimacy gap from the deal to lift the ban of importing US beef of all ages, because the South Korean Department of Agriculture and its public servants have long opposed to the import of beef coming from cows of more than 30 months. Thus, South Korean publics raised an issue of consistency in government positions regarding the safety of US beef and processed beef products. The publics were not satisfied with public servants’ inconsistent account for the deal. This period also observed the enormous effects of MBC PD Notebook on proliferating

Authors: Lim, Joon Soo., Mun, Kwansik. and Yang, Sung-Un.
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Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions   
 
 
15  
has rapidly decreased, presumably the effect of government’s active promotion of its 
positions using traditional media channels as well as public relations tools. While 
government may have succeeded in reducing the cognitive legitimacy gap by actively 
controlling the risk communication on the traditional media, it faced severe protests from 
the public because of losing moral legitimacy.  
The shifts in legitimacy disputes among online publics discourse demonstrate 
government risk communication in the midst of PD Notebook’s series of investigative 
reports made some effects on online publics’ evaluations of the government risk 
communication. To explain the relationships between government public relations and 
online publics’ legitimacy disputes, we provide more qualitative analyses of content 
across the different time periods.  
Period 1: Before opening formalized risk communication. Legitimacy disputes 
in this period 1 was most affected by two events—(1) the deal between US and Korea to 
reopen Korea’s market for all US beef products from cattle of all ages (Hanrahan & 
Becker, 2008), and (2) MBC PD Notebook’s first investigative report on MCD issue for 
US beef.   
Many South Koreans found some cognitive legitimacy gap from the deal to lift 
the ban of importing US beef of all ages, because the South Korean Department of 
Agriculture and its public servants have long opposed to the import of beef coming from 
cows of more than 30 months. Thus, South Korean publics raised an issue of consistency 
in government positions regarding the safety of US beef and processed beef products. 
The publics were not satisfied with public servants’ inconsistent account for the deal. 
This period also observed the enormous effects of MBC PD Notebook on proliferating 


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