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Animals in the media: New boundaries of risk?

Published in Health, Risk and Society. 2011, vol. 13, no. 1, p. 17-30
Abstract The role of media in the construction of social representations of risks still deserves further analysis, especially in situations where new or unexpected risks are being reported. Risks associated with animals have more often become a source of concern in terms of potential harm for human health; media reports have participated in developing new fears and ambivalence. These risks associated with animals reflect transformations of the human relationship to nature and the environment. In these processes, several boundaries are being challenged: broadly the nature-culture division but also the protection offered by national borders are questioned. After discussing these animal-associated threats in the light of social science analysis of risks, we present empirical results based on a corpus of media articles in Switzerland over a 30-year period (N¼4480). Our analysis depicts the importance and evolution over time of dangerous animals in media representations; even though these have always been present in the media, their importance has been increasing over the last decade in relationship to several major crises. The analysis then examines the explanations associated with the development of these threats and particularly assesses the blame attribution processes. Besides noticing that these are not very developed, we show that they more often focus on human action than on the animals themselves. Finally, we look at the ways protective boundaries are drawn around those recent issues characterised by uncertainty and our data highlight that national borders are often used as symbolic protection allowing to put some distance with new threats.
Keywords RiskMediaMedia representationsAnimalsBordersNational borders Introduction
Note Publié dans le cadre d'une recherche subventionnée par l'Office vétérinaire fédéral
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GERBER, David Louis Jonas, BURTON-JEANGROS, Claudine, DUBIED, Annik. Animals in the media: New boundaries of risk?. In: Health, Risk and Society, 2011, vol. 13, n° 1, p. 17-30. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:14528

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Deposited on : 2011-02-28

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