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The Dynamics of Sensemaking and Information Seeking in a Crisis Situation

Journal article
Authors Orla Vigsø
Tomas Andersson Odén
Published in Nordicom Review
Volume 37
Issue 1
Pages 1-14
ISSN 1403-1108
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 1-14
Language en
Keywords crisis communication, media use, sensemaking, focus groups, Halmstad, fire
Subject categories Media and Communications


The present article investigates two questions: What determines citizens’ use of different media to seek information in a crisis situation, and what influences their evaluation of the information found. The case analysed is a major fire at a chemical storage facility in the harbour of Halmstad in Sweden, where there was a risk of toxic fumes reaching the city and its approximately 60,000 inhabitants. The study is part of a larger project, financed by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, and in this part, focus group interviews are analysed. The results point to an interaction between citizens’ perception of the world, the perceived information, and the development of how the situation is regarded, where sensemaking is the pivotal concept.

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