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Communication Across the Spectrum of Hazards and Disasters


This dissertation investigates several instances of the micro-communication landscape across the spectrum of hazards, from the quotidian to the exotic, by offering a deeper understanding into the communication process via retransmission and communication dynamics. Chapter 2 focuses on hazard communication during quotidian and atypical hazards in the context of the National Weather Service's use of Twitter from 2009-2021. We investigate several micro-structural, content, and style related message features to understand the properties that make a message more likely to be retransmitted. Chapter 3 looks into communication occurring in the range of exotic and atypical end of the spectrum by studying public-health communicators on Twitter during the first eight months of the unfolding coronavirus disease 2019. Finally, Chapter 4 focuses solely on the exotic end of this spectrum in an investigation of 17 communication networks during the unfolding events of the 2001 World Trade Center Disaster. We model 17 dynamic radio networks to understand the role that the social mechanisms of preferential attachment, Institutionalized Coordinator Roles, and conversational inertia play in the communication process of a disrupted environment. This dissertation provides a holistic overview of hazard communication across this spectrum, providing into the kinds of micro-communication strategies and processes that are unfolding. We hope it inspires future research in this area of critical importance.

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