Thesis on Earthquake and Consequences

Beginning in 1974, government agencies and the media increasingly became more concerned about earthquake preparedness and seismic safety legislation. Their heightened awareness and concern paralleled the developing ability of scientists working in the earthquake prediction field. As members of the scientific community became more vocal about their ability to issue predictions within the next decade, questions of how well prepared southern.

California was to deal with another major earthquake were raised. These concerns and questions were especially prominent between April 1976, and January 1977, when the media gave a great deal of coverage to earthquake forecasts and predictions (from both scientific and non-scientific sources). Between January 1976 and June 30, 1977 (which will be referred to as the study period), varying amounts of popular response to, and discussion of, earthquake topics took place.

“Activated attention” to these topics took various forms: information exchange (i.e., the informal discussion of earthquake topics within networks and social settings); individual information-seeking attempts directed toward “expert” sources; rumoring; collective information-seeking directed toward expert sources; organizationally-sponsored information dissemination to members of groups; and, in a few instances, the crystallization of some aspect of seismic safety around which a new collectivity emerged.

Yet, earthquake preparedness and seismic safety never became a continuing, salient issue for most Los Angeles County residents. As an incipient interest, it failed to attract any sustained, widespread attention. Instead, attention varied over time and across social groups. Earthquake concerns and seismic safety, as potential subjects of community interest and concern which had to vie with other topics for community attention, largely failed to crystallize into active community issues.

Then on May 28, the Yunan region of China was struck by two destructive quakes (7.5 and 7.6). Although they received limited coverage in local papers, the fact that a short-term warning was issued is significant. Only minutes before the first shock, authorities issued a warning that enabled thousands of people to evacuate to safety and greatly reduced the number of casualties. This became the second successful earthquake prediction for the Chinese reported by the media.

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