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Investigating the Role of Identities and Opinion Leadership on Risk Information Seeking and Sharing about Proposed Natural Gas Drilling in New York’s Marcellus Shale
Unformatted Document Text:  18 mentioned frequently. Being part of a landowner coalition was another context that informed these social expectations, with coalition members being the key referent group. Issues included economics (i.e., revitalizing a struggling area economy) and government drilling policies. The proposed framework also suggested that one could be an information resource across contexts, with the potential for consonant or dissonant meaning related to issues about which one is expected to remain informed. One interviewee’s comments illustrated this phenomenon: Having gotten involved in a landowner’s group…I feel responsible [to be informed about gas drilling]. I volunteered to take on that role and, therefore, there are expectations [from] the people in the landowner group [and] our neighbors, friends, and people in our community. That is my role and, therefore, I take it seriously and try to stay on top of the issue…and, of course, after taking [elected] office, it absolutely is my duty to stay on top of the issues so that I can help the [elected body] and anyone who needs my help to become knowledgeable. This interviewee gave no indication that attempting to fulfill the expectations of both contexts was difficult. Indeed, most interviewees did not perceive different issues about which they felt they were expected to remain informed in situations of context overlap. Instead, their focus was on being up to speed on everything, with an elected official stating that “you need to be informed [on] every aspect [about gas drilling]. I don’t’ think because I’m a Legislator, I don’t need this information or want it…any and all information…is very, very important.” Interviewees likewise felt personal pressure to remain informed about Marcellus Shale in general and, in the case of some interviewees, particular facets. Certain issues appeared to transcending identity-related contexts, including drilling-related policies on the local and state government level. At the same time, personal pressure also applied to certain opinion leader identity contexts. Elected officials, for example, concentrated on infrastructure impacts, especially roads, as they felt that these issues were under their control as policy-makers.

Authors: Clarke, Chris.
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mentioned frequently. Being part of a landowner coalition was another context that informed 
these social expectations, with coalition members being the key referent group. Issues included 
economics (i.e., revitalizing a struggling area economy) and government drilling policies.
The proposed framework also suggested that one could be an information resource across 
contexts, with the potential for consonant or dissonant meaning related to issues about which one 
is expected to remain informed. One interviewee’s comments illustrated this phenomenon:
Having gotten involved in a landowner’s group…I feel responsible [to be informed about gas 
drilling].  I volunteered to take on that role and, therefore, there are expectations [from] the 
people in the landowner group [and] our neighbors, friends, and people in our community. 
That is my role and, therefore, I take it seriously and try to stay on top of the issue…and, of 
course, after taking [elected] office, it absolutely is my duty to stay on top of the issues so that 
I can help the [elected body] and anyone who needs my help to become knowledgeable.
This interviewee gave no indication that attempting to fulfill the expectations of both contexts 
was difficult. Indeed, most interviewees did not perceive different issues about which they felt 
they were expected to remain informed in situations of context overlap. Instead, their focus was 
on being up to speed on everything, with an elected official stating that “you need to be informed 
[on] every aspect [about gas drilling]. I don’t’ think because I’m a Legislator, I don’t need this 
information or want it…any and all information…is very, very important.” 
Interviewees likewise felt personal pressure to remain informed about Marcellus Shale in 
general and, in the case of some interviewees, particular facets. Certain issues appeared to 
transcending identity-related contexts, including drilling-related policies on the local and state 
government level. At the same time, personal pressure also applied to certain opinion leader 
identity contexts. Elected officials, for example, concentrated on infrastructure impacts, 
especially roads, as they felt that these issues were under their control as policy-makers. 

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