Risk theorists have frequently discussed the discursive construction of risk perception. In particular, the effect of media consumption on increasing the subjective perception of risk has been highlighted. Not much is known about how government communication affects citizens’ impressions and attitudes in this area, something that this research seeks to address. During the sixth wave of Covid-19, triggered by the emergence of the Omicron variant, government discourse shifted from initial concern to what has become known as the “influenzaisation” paradigm, an attempt to normalise the disease. Based on the results of a survey carried out in January 2022 amongst 664 citizens of the Community of Madrid, we sought to demonstrate, using binary logistic regression (BLR) models, to what extent the degree to which the citizens of Madrid internalised the government’s thesis of “influenzaisation” was related to a lower perception of risk. Similarly, the aim is to show whether agreement with the “influenzaisation” thesis also favoured positions that were less inclined to restrictions, so that government communication succeeded in reducing the social demand for measures. Finally, the study evaluates the predictive character of ideology on levels of risk perception and attitudes towards restrictive measures. The findings indicate that acceptance of the “influenzaisation” story led to a lower perception of risk and, as a consequence, reduced support for restrictive measures among those most exposed to this thesis. The discursive articulation of risk in government communication becomes a central element of crisis management and the strategic formulation of “risk de-escalation” or “post-risk” messages.

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Published on 07/11/22
Accepted on 07/11/22
Submitted on 07/11/22

Volume 31, Issue 6, 2022
DOI: 10.3145/epi.2022.nov.04
Licence: Other

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