This survey in an examplary way explores the reception of the first case of BSE in Germany. It tries to give proof of the great impact size and structure of communication groups have on the risk evaluation process and its results. The communication groups were evaluated in the framework of a network study carried out in a northern-german village with 820 inhabitants. Apart from the size of communication groups, the participation of farmers in the communication networks turned out to be of crucial importance for people's knowledge and attitudes on the BSE subject. The survey's result supports the theory of a "two-step flow of information". Those who have only seldom discussed BSE with others, know less about the disease than more active communicators. From this one can derive the thesis, that conversation plays a crucial part in bringing mass media information to the recipient. This is particularly true for less educated segments of society.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The BSE case
Opinion making in a community in northern Germany

Markus Lehmkuhl   Free University Berlin

This survey in an examplary way explores the reception of the first case of BSE in Germany. It tries to give proof of the great impact size and structure of communication groups have on the risk evaluation process and its results. The communication groups were evaluated in the framework of a network study carried out in a northern-german village with 820 inhabitants. Apart from the size of communication groups, the participation of farmers in the communication networks turned out to be of crucial importance for people's knowledge and attitudes on the BSE subject. The survey's result supports the theory of a "two-step flow of information". Those who have only seldom discussed BSE with others, know less about the disease than more active communicators. From this one can derive the thesis, that conversation plays a crucial part in bringing mass media information to the recipient. This is particularly true for less educated segments of society.

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