L. Créton-Cazanave, LTHE, CNRS, grenoble, France


For a long time now, we know that, despite many studies and researches on warning systems, we do not succeed in improving real warning processes (Sorensen, 2000). Obviously, we need new theoretical frames in order to undertake real actors’ practices, in real situations. More, it seems that we should also address the problem of “sense-making” (Weick, 1995, 2003) if we seek to understand what is at stake during a warning process.

This communication will present the outcomes of a new approach of warning: the “Distance Analysis Frame” (DAF).

This approach, based on a “pragmatic sociology” background, is characterized by:

  • Integration: considers all the actors involved (even the unexpected ones, and non-humans entities)
  • Symmetry: all actors are treated in the same way, within the same analysis frame
  • Comprehensive: actors’ actions and choices are regarded through their meaning for actors.

The warning is defined as the process by which we undertake some entities from the environment to make sense out of the situation, in order to ground and coordinate our actions.

Analyzing all distances at stake during a warning process, and how actors do achieve to deal /play with them (thanks to many technologies and strategies), the DAF allows us to built a new understanding of warning processes. For instance, we are finally able to provide (some pieces of) knowledge about:

  • the whole warning process (from the meteo-forecaster to the riverside resident),
  • how actors make sense out of their environment,
  • how local issues and knowledge may “make the system efficient”,
  • how technical improvement may also be a problem (if it creates new distances) etc

So, going through the classical approach of warnings, and bringing in the DAF, seems to be a promising way to improve our understanding of real warning processes, in their situational complexity and their “sense-making” dimension.


Power Point Presentation (PDF)

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