Aspects of Risk Communication in Two Cultures

November 1992 (VOL. 10, NO. 3)

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When people from two distinct cultures attempt to communicate, they often fail to share the fundamental foundation upon which to establish meaningful two-way communication (e.g., language and belief). Risk communication under such circumstances demands special attention; extra effort on the part of people from both cultures to understand and appreciate the risks from a comprehensive perspective that accommodates both sets of interests. This paper examines the communication about risk between the US Army and the native Polynesian cultures in the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, the article analyzes the written record of the proceedings to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 that led up to the shipment of the European Stockpile of unitary chemical weapons to Johnston Atoll that was completed November 1990.