The most important science show of Italian television, Quark, has been running for some years now a short section on "Science in the Kitchen". In this section, as the title says, the viewer is invited to learn about the chemical and physical secrets taking place in a kitchen.

The ideology of ’science in public’ lying behind this section is interesting for a number of reasons. It does not offer, as much ’public science’ tries to do, ’the wonderful’, ’the miraculous’ or in general, something quite beyond the everyday experience, leaving the TV spectators with their mouth wide open. Rather, it inserts science into one of the fields that to the people’s experience most clearly embed everyday life: the kitchen. Thus, science colonizes an area that is generally recognized as the privileged territory of common sense. It shows how ’easy’ science is, how relevant it is even to the simplest and most trivial routines, how fun it can be. Scientific knowledge is not presented in antithesis to common sense, it does not seek to subvert it as it has become typical of public presentations of science especially since the huge public impact of this century’s revolution in physics. Science is here placed alongside common sense, ready to take it by the hand and ’upgrade’ it by enlightening the theoretical significance of unconsciously adopted practices.

Apparently only a curious and funny aspect, the metaphor of cookery as science is revealing of a significant, although often neglected, ideology of the relationship between science and common science. Furthermore, when read in parallel with the complementary metaphor of science as cookery, extensively used in scientific debates to criticize the opponents’ theories and results, the metaphor adds another important angle to our understanding of the strong connections existing between public communication of science and core scientific practice.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Surely you are cooking, Mr. Feynman! Strategies for the presentation of science in TV

Massimiano Bucchi   Dipartimento di Sociologia, Universit√ɬ† degli Studi di Trento

The most important science show of Italian television, Quark, has been running for some years now a short section on "Science in the Kitchen". In this section, as the title says, the viewer is invited to learn about the chemical and physical secrets taking place in a kitchen.

The ideology of ’science in public’ lying behind this section is interesting for a number of reasons. It does not offer, as much ’public science’ tries to do, ’the wonderful’, ’the miraculous’ or in general, something quite beyond the everyday experience, leaving the TV spectators with their mouth wide open. Rather, it inserts science into one of the fields that to the people’s experience most clearly embed everyday life: the kitchen. Thus, science colonizes an area that is generally recognized as the privileged territory of common sense. It shows how ’easy’ science is, how relevant it is even to the simplest and most trivial routines, how fun it can be. Scientific knowledge is not presented in antithesis to common sense, it does not seek to subvert it as it has become typical of public presentations of science especially since the huge public impact of this century’s revolution in physics. Science is here placed alongside common sense, ready to take it by the hand and ’upgrade’ it by enlightening the theoretical significance of unconsciously adopted practices.

Apparently only a curious and funny aspect, the metaphor of cookery as science is revealing of a significant, although often neglected, ideology of the relationship between science and common science. Furthermore, when read in parallel with the complementary metaphor of science as cookery, extensively used in scientific debates to criticize the opponents’ theories and results, the metaphor adds another important angle to our understanding of the strong connections existing between public communication of science and core scientific practice.

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