"We Think Nothing Like This Can Happen Here": Reception, Perception and Response to Risk Communication Among Refugees and Immigrants in Sweden

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Riskhantering och Samhällssäkerhet

Abstract: Risk communication is recognised as an essential component of crisis preparedness, enabling people at risk to take informed decisions to protect themselves. Research has shown that foreign-born people including refugees and immigrants to a lesser extent than others are reached by the information and are less prepared for crisis, making them particularly vulnerable in crisis situations. Employing a receiver-perspective and using the Swedish risk communication leaflet If Crisis or War Comes as a case study, this research investigates reception, perception and response to risk communication among a group of refugees and immigrants in Sweden. Informed by semi-structured interviews with the refugees and immigrants, the findings show that the leaflet was received and read by most of them, and the information perceived as relevant and important. The increased information did however not lead to the taking of any additional preparedness measures, confirming to the insight that information only is not enough to encourage protective action. Risk perception, reliance and dependency on authorities, unrealistic optimism and lack of storage space were identified as the main hindrances to preparedness, whereas limited Swedish language skills posed a barrier to comprehend the information. It is argued that further analysis of obstacles to preparedness, and ways to overcome the challenges, is needed for increasing the effectiveness of risk communication, to help ensure no one is left behind in preparing for crisis.

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