The design of the exhibits in a science center has specific effects as far as the socio-epsitemic positioning of its visitors. Therefore in this paper, science centers are considered as ‘texts’ that employ a variety of semiotic modes (e.g.written language, two dimensional and three dimensional representations) for constructing their own messages. These messages refer to three distinct dimensions of the socio-epistemic positioning of visitors, i.e. the degree of the techno-scientific content specialization (positioning with respect to the techno-scientific subject matter), the degree of specialization of the corresponding expressive codes (positioning with respect to the specialized techno-scientific codes employed) as well as the interpersonal relationships that tend to be established (social positioning with respect to status of techno-scientific knowledge). These three functions, inspired by a systemic functional linguistics approach, become operational by applying a specific socio-semiotical scheme of analysis. As an example we analyzed a thematic unit hosted in the Greek Natural History Center-Gaia. The analysis shows that in this case science is presented as a specialized body of knowledge, expressed in vernacular and realistic codes and consisting of elements that can be discovered through active personal involvement and investigation (characteristics of a science center of the first generation).

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Textual analysis of a science center
Expressive modes and positioning implications

Kostas Dimopoulos   Hellenic Open University, Greece

Vasilis Koulaidis   University of Peloponnese, Greece

Spyridon Matiatos   Gaia Environmental Research and Educational Center

The design of the exhibits in a science center has specific effects as far as the socio-epsitemic positioning of its visitors. Therefore in this paper, science centers are considered as ‘texts’ that employ a variety of semiotic modes (e.g.written language, two dimensional and three dimensional representations) for constructing their own messages. These messages refer to three distinct dimensions of the socio-epistemic positioning of visitors, i.e. the degree of the techno-scientific content specialization (positioning with respect to the techno-scientific subject matter), the degree of specialization of the corresponding expressive codes (positioning with respect to the specialized techno-scientific codes employed) as well as the interpersonal relationships that tend to be established (social positioning with respect to status of techno-scientific knowledge). These three functions, inspired by a systemic functional linguistics approach, become operational by applying a specific socio-semiotical scheme of analysis. As an example we analyzed a thematic unit hosted in the Greek Natural History Center-Gaia. The analysis shows that in this case science is presented as a specialized body of knowledge, expressed in vernacular and realistic codes and consisting of elements that can be discovered through active personal involvement and investigation (characteristics of a science center of the first generation).

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