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Legitimacy Disputes and Social Amplification of Perceived Risk
Unformatted Document Text:  Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions     25   because it did not achieve moral legitimacy. It turned out that South Korean government at least succeeded in reducing cognitive legitimacy, indicating that its information campaigns and active participation in TV debates worked in some degree by reducing some misunderstanding or by correcting some misinformation. However, as time went by, online publics became critical of the ways the government managed the crisis situation. The government was perceived to be not listening to what the publics were saying and concealing important information, which resulted in increased negative evaluations of moral legitimacy. One notable thing is that people’s evaluations of pragmatic legitimacy were static across four time periods, indicating that people were never satisfied with the ways government made the deal with U.S. government. So in the end, it was the mixed response of lack of pragmatic legitimacy and increased negative evaluation as to moral legitimacy that made motivated more people to join the street rallies. It is noteworthy that South Korean publics’ protests have become stronger as the focus of legitimacy disputes has shifted from cognitive to moral. Failure to establish a legitimate and credible public relations program during the risk situation eventually yielded inflated public fear and did enormous damage to involving constituencies, followed by huge protests from disgruntled members of the public. By looking into the shifts of perceived risk and perceived legitimacy as a consequence of organizational risk communication, this study emphasized the value of contemporary public relations of which focus has moved from the message-centric strategies to the institutionalized practice based on sociology. Findings of this study suggest that practitioners should not disparage the opinions of the general public for poor quality information. In this regard, Sheldon Krimsky

Authors: Lim, Joon Soo., Mun, Kwansik. and Yang, Sung-Un.
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Legitimacy & Social Amplification of Risk Perceptions   
 
 
25  
because it did not achieve moral legitimacy. It turned out that South Korean government 
at least succeeded in reducing cognitive legitimacy, indicating that its information 
campaigns and active participation in TV debates worked in some degree by reducing 
some misunderstanding or by correcting some misinformation. However, as time went 
by, online publics became critical of the ways the government managed the crisis 
situation. The government was perceived to be not listening to what the publics were 
saying and concealing important information, which resulted in increased negative 
evaluations of moral legitimacy. One notable thing is that people’s evaluations of 
pragmatic legitimacy were static across four time periods, indicating that people were 
never satisfied with the ways government made the deal with U.S. government. So in the 
end, it was the mixed response of lack of pragmatic legitimacy and increased negative 
evaluation as to moral legitimacy that made motivated more people to join the street 
rallies. It is noteworthy that South Korean publics’ protests have become stronger as the 
focus of legitimacy disputes has shifted from cognitive to moral. Failure to establish a 
legitimate and credible public relations program during the risk situation eventually 
yielded inflated public fear and did enormous damage to involving constituencies, 
followed by huge protests from disgruntled members of the public. 
By looking into the shifts of perceived risk and perceived legitimacy as a 
consequence of organizational risk communication, this study emphasized the value of 
contemporary public relations of which focus has moved from the message-centric 
strategies to the institutionalized practice based on sociology.  
Findings of this study suggest that practitioners should not disparage the opinions 
of the general public for poor quality information. In this regard, Sheldon Krimsky 


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