“We became sceptics”: fear and media hype in general public narrative on the advent of pandemic influenza

Mark Davis, Paul Flowers, Niamh Stephenson, Davina Lohm, Emily Waller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the apparent resistance of publics to messages
regarding pandemic influenza. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was addressed
through media: governments used print, broadcast and digital media to
advise publics to enact hygiene practices and comply with social isolation;
news media took up the pandemic as a lead story. Publics, however, rated
the pandemic as not serious, even before it was widely known that it was
mild for most. This problem is presently constructed as complacency:
where individuals are seen to lack appropriate motivation to avoid risk. We
combine perspectives on media reflexivity on the part of audiences with
general public interviews and focus groups in Australia and the UK, to offer
an alternative explanation for complacency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Inquiry
Early online date26 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • pandemics
  • media
  • fear society
  • influenza
  • epidemiology

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