The Social Amplification of Tree Health Risks: The Case of Ash Dieback Disease in the UK
The risks posed by tree pests and diseases have been widely recognised in expert circles, but the degree to which this awareness is shared by publics and stakeholders is still unclear. There is a potential conflict between government attempts to manage the risks, media coverage and the ways in which publics and stakeholders make sense of the threats. The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) was adopted in this study as a means of exploring the interrelationships of media representation, expert assessments and public perceptions of the ash dieback outbreak in the UK. By exploring the dynamic interactions between these different actors and the social, psychological and cultural processes through which they determine risk, the study provides a more nuanced understanding of tree health risks that can inform risk communication strategies and outbreak management.
The research reported in this chapter was produced as part of the UNPICK (Understanding public risk in relation to tree health) project funded jointly by a grant from BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government, under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (Grant Number BB/L012308/1). It draws on material published in the peer-reviewed outputs of the project and a policy briefing (Potter et al. 2018).
- Burns, W. J., Slovic, P., Kasperson, R. E., Kasperson, J. X., Renn, O., & Emani, S. (1993). Incorporating structural models into research on the social amplification of risk: Implications for theory construction and decision making. Risk Analysis, 13(6), 611–623. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.1993.tb01323.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Busby, J. S., & Onggo, S. (2012). Managing the social amplification of risk: A similation of interacting actors. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1057/jors.2012.80.
- COA. (2013). Risk Analysis Framework 2013. Edited by Office of the Gene Technology Regulator Department of Health and Ageing. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
- Dietz, T., & Stern, P. (Eds.). (1996). Understanding risk. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Fellenor, J., Barnett, J., Potter, C., Urquhart, J., Mumford, J.‚ & Quine, C. P. (under review-a). Ash dieback and other tree pests and pathogens: Dispersed risk events and the social amplification of risk framework. Journal of Risk Research.Google Scholar
- Fellenor, J., Barnett, J., Potter, C., Urquhart, J., Mumford, J., Quine, C. P., & Raum, S. (under review-b). ‘I’d like to report a suspicious looking tree’: Public concern, public attention and the nature of reporting about ash dieback in the UK. Public Understanding of Science.Google Scholar
- Fellenor, J., Barnett, J., Potter, C., Urquhart, J., Mumford, J., & Quine, C. P. (2017). The social amplification of risk on twitter: The case of ash dieback disease. Journal of Risk Research, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2017.1281339.
- FR. (2012). Rapid assessment of the need for a detailed Pest Risk Analysis for Chalara fraxinea. Forest Research.Google Scholar
- Gaspar, R., Gorjão, S., Seibt, B., Lima, L., Barnett, J., Moss, A., et al. (2014). Tweeting during food crises: A psychosocial analysis of threat coping expressions in Spain, during the 2011 European EHEC outbreak. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 72, 239–254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2013.10.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gormley, A., Pollard, S., & Rocks, S. (2011). Green leaves III: Guidelines for environmental risk assessment and management. Cranfield: Cranfield University.Google Scholar
- Jackson, J., Allum, N., & Gaskell, G. (2006). Bridging levels of analysis in risk perception research: The case of the fear of crime. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(1, Art. 20), 1–26.Google Scholar
- Kasperson, R. E. (1992). The social amplification of risk—Progress in developing an integrative framework. In S. Krimsky & D. Golding (Eds.), Social theories of risk. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Kasperson, R. E. (2012a). A perspective on the social amplification of risk. The Bridge, 42(3), 23–27. Google Scholar
- Lasswell, H. (1948). The structure and function of communication in society. In L. Byrson (Ed.), The communication of ideas. New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies.Google Scholar
- Moscovici, S. (1984). The phenomenon of social representations. In R. M. Farr & S. Moscovici (Eds.), Social representations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Mumford, J. D. (2013). Biosecurity management practices: Determining and delivering a response. In A. Dobson, K. Barker, & S. Taylor (Eds.), Biosecurity: The socio-politics of invasive species and infectious diseases. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Petts, J., Horlick-Jones, T., & Murdock, G. (2001). Social amplification of risk: The media and the public. Contract Research Report 326/2001 for the Health & Safety Executive.Google Scholar
- Pidgeon, N., & Barnett, J. (2013). Chalara and the social amplification of risk. Report to Defra.Google Scholar
- Potter, C., Urquhart, J., Mumford, J., Barnett, J., Fellenor, J., & Quine, C. P. (2018). UNPICK policy briefing note. Edited by Imperial College London.Google Scholar
- Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
- Smith, A. (2010). Government online: The internet gives citizens new paths to government services and information. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project.Google Scholar
- Urquhart, J., Potter, C., Barnett, J., Fellenor, J., Mumford, J., & Quine, C. P. (under review-a). Risk communication and the subjective differences in the public perceptions of ash dieback: A Q methodology study. Land Use Policy.Google Scholar
- Urquhart, J., Potter, C., Barnett, J., Fellenor, J., Mumford, J., & Quine, C.P. (under review-b). Managing the institutional risks of tree pest and disease outbreaks in Britain: The case of ash dieback. Forest Policy and Economics. Google Scholar
- Urquhart, J., Potter, C., Barnett, J., Fellenor, J., Mumford, J., & Quine, C. P. (2017a, November). Expert risk perceptions and the social amplification of risk: A case study in invasive tree pests and diseases. Environmental Science & Policy, 77, 172–178. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.08.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Urquhart, J., Potter, C., Barnett, J., Fellenor, J., Mumford, J., Quine, C. P., & Bayliss, H. (2017b). Awareness, concern and willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours: Public perceptions of invasive tree pests and pathogens in the UK. Biological Invasions, 19(9). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1467-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar