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The contextual dimension of risk dialogues: the case of water recycling weblogs in South East Queensland, Australia

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Publication Date
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Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
Keywords
  • 160810 Urban Sociology And Community Studies
  • Blogs
  • Water Recycling
  • Public Acceptance
  • Risk Dialogues
  • South East Queensland
  • Australia
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Abstract

In January 2007, the Premier of Queensland, Australia, made the controversial decision to introduce recycled water into South East Queensland’s (SEQ’s) drinking supply, igniting significant community debate. Using a Toowoombabased antirecycling weblog (blog) as a case study, this paper examines the discourse produced in relation to the water recycling proposal as a means to understand how bloggers’ risk dialogues were shaped. Using the Public Acceptability of Controversial Technologies (PACT) framework as a conceptual guide, this paper demonstrates how the political and institutional context played a significant role in influencing people’s position in relation to water recycling technologies. Specifically, through the construction of a David and Goliath-type battle between the ‘ordinary resident’ versus the ‘authorities’ (local council, government and experts), bloggers created a context whereby pro-recycling could be equated with pro-Goliath. Overall, the analysis highlights the salience of context in shaping risk dialogues about controversial technologies.

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