Inderscience Publishers

Rumours interplay in disaster management

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Rumours affect how rational individuals assess risks, evaluate needs, and make decisions in disaster-affected environments. This paper presents a comprehensive understanding of the role of rumours in disaster management. First we present an objective definition of 'rumour' that is a compound definition including both a message with some degree of false content and a method of transporting the content. Second, we analyse two well-documented cases of technological and biological disaster events that have resulted in both losses to human welfare and economic losses and the interplay of rumours in these cases. We explain how rumours as objects become enacted and activate other objects. A model for understanding these interactions of rumours in disaster environments is developed and explained. Finally, we outline a strategy for authorities and assistance agencies that can contribute to disaster management.

Keywords: communications, disaster management, enactment, information, objects, rumours, emergency management, risk assessment, decision making, technological disasters, biological disasters, human welfare, economic losses

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