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Research seminar

Public health communication during COVID-19

Messenger, measures or context?

Add to calendar 2024-06-13 13:30 2024-06-13 15:00 Europe/Rome Public health communication during COVID-19 Via Zoom YYYY-MM-DD


13 June 2024

13:30 - 15:00 CEST


Via Zoom

In the framework of the EUI Crisis of Expert Knowledge and Authority Interdisciplinary Research Cluster, this event hosts Professor Evelyne Hübscher (CEU) and Dr Alexandru Moise (EUI, Department of Political and Social Sciences), who will present their paper on the analyses of different approaches to the communication of pandemic measures.

The paper contributes to a debate evolving around issues of trust in institutions, experts, and politicians. In particular, we ask the question 'What role does communication during a crisis play in public compliance with measures?' The COVID-19 crisis has presented us with different models of crisis communication. While French President Macron motivated tough measures to fight the virus with strong words and stark images, other states, such as Germany, communicated via changing panels of experts and introduced measures with less combative rhetoric. They instead invoked national solidarity and the need to remain calm. These different communication strategies, and the relative trust that individuals have in politicians and epidemiologists are likely to impact the degree to which individuals support policies and alter their behaviour. We hypothesise that crisis communication by experts – on average – leads to higher levels of acceptance and compliance than measures communicated by politicians. We use a vignette-based survey experiment (fielded in Germany and the UK) to assess this question. The scenarios vary on three accounts: the messenger, the severity of the outbreak, and the type of measures that are announced. This setting allows us to assess how politicians and health experts as key actors, influence individual acceptance and compliance with restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic. We find that – on average – experts are more trusted than politicians, in particularly when the measures implemented are tough.

Evelyne Hübscher is Professor at the Department of Public Policy. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence and a Lic. Phil. from the University of Zurich. Before joining CEU in 2010 she was a pre-doc at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) in Vienna. During the academic year of 2021/2022 she was a Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (European University Institute, Florence). Her research is at the intersection of comparative political economy and party politics. Evelyne has written extensively on the economic, political and strategic determinants of unpopular reforms, in particular austerity. Recent contributions (published in the British Journal of Political Science) focus on citizen's assessment of austerity measures and to what extent austerity affects the electoral support of governing parties and how austerity changes party landscapes and leads to political polarisation.

Alexandru D. Moise is a Research Fellow at the European University Institute, working in the SOLID Project (Policy Crisis and Crisis Politics Sovereignty, Solidarity and Identity in the EU Post 2008. PI's: Hanspeter Kriesi, Waltraud Schelkle, Maurizio Ferrera). He was previously a Max Weber Fellow at the EUI, and a Part-time Assistant Professor at the EUI teaching quantitative methods. He also teaches at the European Consortium for Political Research Summer and Winter Schools. He received his PhD from Central European University in September 2019. His research interests span the politics of health policy, populism, and crisis politics and European integration.

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