From concerned citizens to activists: a case study of 2015 South Korean MERS outbreak and the role of dialogic government communication and citizens’ emotions on public activism

Minjeong Kang, Jangyul Robert Kim, Heewon Cha

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24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the cognitive-affective-behavioral sequence of public activism by examining the role of citizens’ perception of government dialogic communication during a national pandemic crisis. Through a case study of the 2015 Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea, the results of a survey of 400 South Korean citizens showed that distrust in government and a high level of situational uncertainty were significantly mitigated by citizens’ perceptions of government efforts for dialogic communication during the crisis. Conversely, when the perception of dialogic government communication was low, high distrust in government increased cynicism, anger, and anxiety among citizens; high situational uncertainty led to higher levels of anger and anxiety, but not cynicism. Consequently, the findings showed that anger, anxiety, and cynicism significantly motivated citizens’ intentions to take actions against the government. Direct and positive effects of anger, anxiety, and cynicism on activism participation were not found and were mediated by the citizens’ activism intentions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-229
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Public Relations Research
Volume30
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Activist publics
  • and situational uncertainty
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • cynicism
  • dialogic government communication
  • distrust in government

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