Risk Perceptions in a Resource Community and Communication Implications: Emotion, Stigma, and Identity

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Abstract

Communication targeting resource communities, sites of potentially damaging industries such as forestry, mining, and logging, requires an understanding of risk perceptions among residents living within these communities. Among concerns facing these communities is social stigmatization, an actual or feared negative psychological experience associated with living in a community with an undesirable industry. This study of a coal-mining resource community was conducted with the purpose of exploring a range of perceptions associated with ongoing exposure to a resource industry, including the experience of social stigma. This study used focus group interviews with stakeholders to highlight the personal voices of the resource community experience. A model of stakeholders’ perceptions of industry risks and benefits is introduced, and important distinctions between hypothetical risk perceptions and perceptions of resource community stakeholders are explored. Implications for communicating with resource communities are also discussed.

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