PhD defence A.E. (Alette) Opperhuizen
- Prof.dr. E.H. Klijn
- Dr.ir. J. Eshuis
On Friday 9 April 2021, A.E. Opperhuizen will defend her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Risk Governance in the Media Age’.
Earthquakes are registered and experienced in Groningen since the '90s. However, it lasted until 2015 before the Dutch government took action to reduce gas drilling, which caused the earthquakes. But why action at that particular moment? Was in 2015 safety suddenly more at stake? The clear answer is 'no,' the physical risk only slightly emerged, and the emerging nature of earthquake risk was known already fora n extended period. The thesis Risk Governance in the Media Age shows that the changing media environment plays a vital role in public safety debate. It is studied in The Netherlands and Italy, when and how media respond to risk issues and reflected in the political arena. When key-events are lacking, media and politics hardly pay attention to risk preparedness and safety. The thesis highlights several psychological mechanisms that may explain inertia in safety decision making and lack of focus on emerging risks. In some cases, tipping points in media attention can cause disjoint policy changes in society's subdomains, while this policy had been stable for extended periods. It is what is observed for the gas-drilling induced earthquakes issue in the northern part of The Netherlands. Critical elements for media logic, in this case, are drama, narratives, and negativity. Risk experts who have the ambition to influence the political agenda should not only communicate technical aspects but also need to take note of media logic.
Due to corona, the PhD defences do not take place publicly in the usual way in the Senate Hall or in the Professor Andries Querido Room. The candidates will defend their dissertation either in a small group or online.