Communication encompasses the provision, sharing and exchange of information, using different means/media.


Communication style: Whereas, in disaster management, a more linear and direct style may be applied, in certain cultural groups it may be more effective to use relational engagement and contextual discussion, in particular for engagement in preparedness measures.

Communication type: Non-verbal communication, i.e. body language and gestures, can lead to misinterpretation if the recipient is not aware of its culture-specific meaning. E.g., slowly shaking one’s head back and forth sideways does not always mean “no” but, rather signals “I’m listening” in some Indian communities.

Communication channel: Using social media may seem not be the first choice for disaster risk communication in areas with a high proportion of elderly citizens, but if, e.g., such local communities are active in offering specific computer courses for senior citizens, it may be possible to suggest to the organisers to use the social media sites of emergency services as practical examples in their courses.

Cultural factors consist of beliefs, attitudes, values and their associated behavior, that are shared by a significant number of people in hazard-affected places [1] as previously stated in this deliverable.

The following list provides a number of cultural factors which have either been found, or hold the potential, to play an important role in disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery: norms/values, customs/traditions/rituals, worldviews, open-mindedness, individual/collective memory, local knowledge, languages, communication, livelihoods, rule of law, power relations, attitudes toward authorities, attitudes toward the media, attitudes toward environmental issues, gender roles, age-related roles, ethnicity, socio-economic status, educational system, density of active citizenship, social networks, social control, social exclusion, and access and use of infrastructures/ services.

They build upon the broad definition of culture generally used within the CARISMAND project. However, the list also includes a number of socio-cultural factors (e.g., socio-economic status, educational system, social control, and social exclusion) as these are densely related to attitudes and perceptions and can, often, provide the “structural” conditions for shaping cultural factors that are of concern in disaster management. Additionally, the decision to include these socio-cultural factors explicitly respects the fact that, in the past, most studies conducted valuable research on these factors, and whilst CARISMAND aims to go beyond state-of-the art and provide a stronger focus on culture, integrating social aspects which have been found to be influential (and linked to cultural aspects) benefits and enriches the Toolkit.

[1] World Disasters Report 2014

A tradition is a belief or behaviour with origins in the past, passed down within a group or society, with symbolic meaning or special significance. It can have evolved and persisted for a long period of time, but it can also have been invented on purpose over short periods of time, e.g. for political reasons.

Customs are habits that are common and followed by members of a group or a society. If a custom is handed over from generation to generation over a period of time it becomes a tradition.

Rituals are ceremonial customs or traditions in a, usually (but not necessarily), religious context.

For example, traditional “machoism” may prevent young men in certain groups or societies from heeding hazard warnings in order not to appear weak amongst their peers. At the same time, actively using mobile phone technology is a “new tradition” and a status symbol amongst these peers. Therefore, implementing mobile hazard alert apps may positively affect these groups’ risk acceptance and risk behaviour.

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