Sociology of risks: lessons learn from “Vajont Dam Disaster”

I just watched a documentary on Vajont dam disaster in National Geografhics. It was said that locals knew before the disaster that the mountain has suffered  landslides in the past. Actually, the mountain was called “the walking mountain”. Nevertheless, the dam was build, in a context of postwar and needs of energy to fuel the economic growth experienced in the country between 1950 and 1960. A few lesson in relation to risk management and communication, non-knowledge and the role of social science in engineering projects (see the role of those specialized in collecting and understanding narratives and local stories): A socially robust construction process, i.e. the involvement of locals in the construction, would have gain relevant information that was unknown by scientists. Information that was present in the collective memory of the town. Hence, locals could have taken part in the knowledge production. Secondly, engineers involved in the construction knew that the the land had been sliding gradually throughout the two months before the disaster. They simply did not count with such a huge tsunami due to wrong estimation. They even knew that the landslide was going to take place sooner or later. Even though, they did not inform locals about this fact. Finally, the wave overpass the dam in 200 meters and destroy the whole valley. This event reminds that science faces, in many occasions, gaps of knowledge or the so called non-knowledge. As in this occasion, policymakers and scientist frequently communicate that decisions have to be based on reliable scientific knowledge and that the acknowledgement of uncertainties would “undermine the public´s confidence in scientific results” (Gross, 2010, p.2)


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/76140299″>Vajont Dam Disaster</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/framepool”>Framepool</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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“GLOBAL-RURAL. The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization”, research project

“GLOBAL-RURAL aims to advance our understanding of the workings and impact of globalization in rural regions through the development and application of new conceptual and methodological approaches. Globalization has a pervasive influence in transforming rural economies and societies, with implications for the major societal challenges of environmental change and resource security. However, in comparison to studies of the global city, relatively little research has focused on the ‘global countryside’, and existing research lacks integration. GLOBAL-RURAL will develop an integrated perspective by drawing on relational analysis (and particularly the approaches of ‘assemblage theory’ and ‘countertopography’) to focus on the actual mechanics by which rural localities are ‘re-made’ through engagement with globalization processes, examining the mediating effect of national and regional context and the opportunity for local interventions. The research will be organized through five work packages. WP1 will develop the methodological application of assemblage theory to analysing the global countryside, informed by case studies in 6 countries. WP2 will combine GIS analysis of quantitative and qualitative data to produce new narratives and visualisations of globalization processes, impacts and responses. WP3 will focus on mundane, ‘everyday globalization’ in a Welsh small town, using a countertopographic methodology. WP4 will apply the assemblage methodology developed in WP1 to analysing the differential global engagement of rural localities in Brazil, China and Tanzania. WP5 will apply the methodology to examine conflicts around renewable energy schemes, mining and water projects and industrial agriculture in rural areas, and the implications for strategies to address global challenges. A sixth work package, WP6, will identify the policy applications of the research, and disseminate research findings to academic and non-academic users.”

“Framing, Agenda Setting, and Priming: The Evolution of Three Media Effects Models”

This special issue of Journal of Communication is devoted to theoretical explanations of news framing, agenda setting, and priming effects. It examines if and how the three models are related and what potential relationships between them tell theorists and researchers about the effects of mass media. As an introduction to this effort, this essay provides a very brief review of the three effects and their roots in media-effects research. Based on this overview, we highlight a few key dimensions along which one can compare, framing, agenda setting, and priming. We conclude with a description of the contexts within which the three models operate, and the broader implications that these conceptual distinctions have for the growth of our discipline.

Dietram A. Scheufele & David Tewksbury

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