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Dynamic social representations of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic: Shifting patterns of sense-making and blame
Public Understanding of Science
We investigate dynamics of public perceptions of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic to understand changing patterns of sense-making and blame regarding the outbreak of emerging infectious diseases. We draw on social representation theory combined with a dramaturgical perspective to identify changes in how various collectives are depicted over the course of the pandemic, according to three roles: heroes, villains and victims. Quantitative results based on content analysis of three cross-sectional waves of interviews show a shift from mentions of distant collectives (e.g., far-flung countries) at Wave 1 to local collectives (e.g., risk groups) as the pandemic became of more immediate concern (Wave 2) and declined (Wave 3). Semi-automated content analysis of media coverage shows similar results. Thematic analyses of the discourse associated with collectives revealed that many were consistently perceived as heroes, villains and victims.
Web of science
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