Dual Disruptions: Overcoming the Effects of Disasters and Mis-, Dis-, and Mal-Information on Democracies [open pdf - 1MB]
From the thesis Abstract: "Democracy stands at a critical juncture in the current environment of mis-, dis-, and mal-information spreading in the media ecosystem and intensifying disaster challenges. This thesis examines how democratic governments can maintain legitimacy after a catastrophic disaster in the age of false information. It uses the comparative case study method to evaluate three international catastrophic disaster responses--the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in Japan; the Australian wildfires of 2019-2020; and the COVID-19 response in the United States beginning in 2020--within the frameworks for democratic principles, crisis leadership, sensemaking, and the social production of disasters. This thesis finds that the combination of ineffective disaster response, poor leadership, and false information can undermine socially constructed legitimacy, amplify and intensify existing social divides, and create instability and distrust of the government. This thesis proposes a model of social response to disasters that recommends networked responder actions to uphold democratic institutions and legitimacy when citizens have been affected by chaos and uncertainty in the operational and information environments. It recommends building trust and resilient communities through sensemaking, meaning-making, adaptation, community stabilization, and ethics and equity."
Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: https://calhoun.nps.edu/