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Theorizing Crisis Communication


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Table of Contents

Notes on Authors viii 1 Introduction to Crisis Communication Theory 1 Defining Crisis 4 Defining Communication 10 Theory 15 Plan for This Book 21 Conclusion 22 2 Theories of Communication and Crisis Development 25 Assumptions of Stage Models 27 Three-Stage Model 30 Fink?s Four-Stage Cycle 33 Turner?s Six-Stage Sequence of Failure in Foresight 37 Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication 40 Conclusion 45 3 Theories of Communication and Warning 49 Detection of Risks 50 Functional Approaches to Communication and Warning 51 Hear-Confirm-Understand-Decide-Respond Model 57 Protective Action Decision Model 60 Integrated Model of Food Recall 67 Emerging Warning Systems 71 Conclusion 72 4 Theories of Communication and Crisis Outcomes 76 Organizational Learning 77 Sensemaking 83 Organizational Legitimacy 87 Situational Crisis Communication Theory 91 Discourse of Renewal 96 Conclusion 100 5 Theories of Communication and Emergency Response 105 Assumptions of Communication and Emergency Response 107 Chaos Theory and Emergent Self-Organization 108 Theories of Communication and Crisis Coordination 114 Communication and Community Resilience 122 Four-Channel Model of Communication 127 Conclusion 132 6 Theories of Communication and Mediated Crises 138 News Framing Theory 140 Focusing Events 143 Uses and Gratifications Theory 147 Crisis News Diffusion 151 Diffusion of Innovations 154 Conclusion 158 7 Theories of Influence and Crisis Communication 163 Apologia 165 Image Repair 168 Kategoria 172 Dramatism 176 Narrative Theory 181 Conclusion 184 8 Theories of Communication and Risk Management 188 Mindfulness 190 High Reliability Organizations 195 Precautionary Principle 200 Cultural Theory 204 Risk Communication as Argument 208 Conclusion 212 9 Theories of Crisis Communication and Ethics 217 Ethics 218 Crisis Communication as an Ethical Domain 221 Responsible Communication 223 Significant Choice 225 The Ethic of Care 227 Virtue Ethics 229 Justice 230 Applications of Moral Theory to Crisis 232 Conclusion 235 10 Using Theories of Crisis Communication 239 Minimization of Communication in an All-Hazards Approach 240 The Practicality of Theory in Understanding Crisis Communication 242 The Pathway for Inspiring Meaningful Change 243 Successful Connections Linking Theory-Based Research and Practitioners 245 Promising New Lines of Research 250 Persistent Challenges 257 A Final Word 259 Index 263

About the Author

Timothy L. Sellnow is Professor of Communication andAssociate Dean for Graduate Studies in Communication at theUniversity of Kentucky. Dr. Sellnow s interdisciplinaryresearch on risk and crisis communication appears in an array ofrefereed journals, handbooks, and edited volumes. He has alsoco-authored five books on risk and crisis communication. Dr.Sellnow frequently serves as a consultant for Fortune 500 companiesin the food industry and government agencies such as the UnitedStates Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of HomelandSecurity (DHS) on risk and crisis communication planning. Matthew W. Seeger is Dean of the College of Fine,Performing and Communication Arts and a Professor of Communicationat Wayne State University in Detroit. His work on crisis, risk andcommunication has appeared in over 100 journal articles, bookchapters, and conference proceedings. Seeger is the author orco-author of six books on organizational communication ethics andcrisis and risk communication. Dr. Seeger also frequently serves asan advisor to the auto industry, manufacturing organizations andgovernment agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC), on topics related to crisis management.


The glory of Theorizing Crisis Communicationis in itsconcise synthesis of multiple theoretical perspectives intooverarching categories. Every major theory presented is accompaniedby an insightful discussion of strengths and weaknesses. Sellnowand Seeger have crafted a text that should encourage researchers toexamine crises from a variety of perspectives and inspire inquirythat ties research to practice. (InternationalJournal of Communication, 1 May 2014)

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