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Social amplification of risk and environmental collective activism: a case study of Cobalt-60 contamination incident in Taiwan

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This paper employs an integrated framework – social amplification of risk – to study the incident of Cobalt-60 radioactive contamination in residences in Taiwan. Here, local collective actions were briefly resident-driven and the broader movement was subsequently dominated by activists who had never been directly impacted. The author utilises a qualitative case study that draws upon in-depth interviews and analysis of documentary data to investigate the Taiwan case. The endeavour is to examine the interplay of various factors, such as social stigma and trust (mistrust) of the risk management institutions, with the experience of risks and risk-related behaviours, as well as their influence in shaping the emergence of the collective activism in response to the chronic residential radiation contamination. In addition, the analysis examines how individuals, environmental activists and governmental institutions select certain risk information, communicate with others and subsequently shape the public's ongoing interpretation and collective responses towards the event. Findings from this study serve to fill the gaps in the current environmental sociology literature.

Keywords: Cobalt-60 contamination, Co-60 contamination, chronic technological disasters, environmental activism, environmental sociology, risk perception, social amplification, social stigma, trust, risk management institutions, Taiwan, radioactive contamination, risk behaviour, radiation contamination, risk communication

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