Risk Communication!

Let me start by saying I am super excited about this book/manuscript since I have just really begun developing a deep interest in the subject of risk and crisis rhetoric and communication…considering previous work I have done and enjoyed, the reasons I became a student after a decade long hiatus from institutional education, and my absolute love for/obsession with post-apocalyptic and apocalyptic narrative, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I landed here. Reading the intro and first chapter this week also makes me wish I had read this at the beginning of the course instead of waiting until it was assigned, and even more so that I had begun asking around about how crisis falls into risk communication in rhetoric and tech/prof com. So, about the readings:

The forward by Savage includes early on a statement about how his “own preference is to leave ethics in the category to which it is consigned in contemporary mainstream culture and to turn to social justice with all of its connotations of politics and ideology” (IV), and, because I have some degree of difficulty with separating the two or being able to fully recognize the differences in practice, I found myself spending a fair amount of time considering whether ethical considerations that are created and continued based on the collaboration of people whose recognized senses of morality conflict with cultural and social practices and who seek to redefine ethical sensibilities, standards, and practices as acts of social justice can be contained in a separate category. But then perhaps by “mainstream” he means political, and then even so, can social justice be separated from the politics. Or maybe it is the complexity of these interactions that allow for social justice to begin with, or maybe it’s the unforgiving tether of all socio-cultural action and reaction to money. Is this where/why/how globalization is a risk of its own.

I generally figure that even though outrage fluctuates on a global, national, and local scale over the realities of risk and injustice (thank you Erin Frost for locating the “Risk=Hazard+Outrage” equation!)  the hazard can’t alter until the public outrage rises high enough to threaten private security, and often only private financial and political security. One of the best features of the internet and social media is that makes more obvious in many cases the hazards faced by man, beasts, and the environment globally, and while it is not always effective in showcasing risk, the fact remains that it gives those working toward better practices and standards of justice a chance to examine, evaluate, and expose truths about both “public” and private documents and actions designed to mitigate, respond to, and even shape ideas and beliefs about risk on every level. Before coming here, to ECU, and work, around, and for Dr. Frost (an advantage I have had over just reading her work), I would have been disappointed when I hit dead ends regarding finding information that wasn’t “available,” but I never would have considered that an absence of information can mean something significant and revel flaws, loyalties, and politics. The work we have been doing in this course, and in other courses, has positioned us as potential creators of positive change, and the more we can understand about the intersections of our own interest, technical communication as a field, and the presence of social-injustices, the more apparent we can make the need for change in public and private domains.


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