As debates in the context of new technologies (such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and converging technologies) and environmental risks (climate change, nuclear energy, etc.) have shown during the last decades, rapid scientific and technological developments not only offer many potential benefits to health, quality of life or economic development, but simultaneously introduce known and unknown risks to health, the environment and social justice, confronting us with tremendous democratic challenges. To adequately address these challenges, it is imperative to investigate whether and to what extent science communication processes and practices facilitate or impede democratic debate and democratic citizenship in these techno-environmental controversies. The aim of this paper is to put forward a new approach in the field of science communication by calling for the conceptual and empirical recognition of these controversies as a new type of social conflict in today’s late modern societies. The implications of this shift will be discussed for the design and evaluation of future science communication processes and practices.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science communication and democratic debate
Friends or foes?

Pieter Maeseele   University of Antwerp

As debates in the context of new technologies (such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and converging technologies) and environmental risks (climate change, nuclear energy, etc.) have shown during the last decades, rapid scientific and technological developments not only offer many potential benefits to health, quality of life or economic development, but simultaneously introduce known and unknown risks to health, the environment and social justice, confronting us with tremendous democratic challenges. To adequately address these challenges, it is imperative to investigate whether and to what extent science communication processes and practices facilitate or impede democratic debate and democratic citizenship in these techno-environmental controversies. The aim of this paper is to put forward a new approach in the field of science communication by calling for the conceptual and empirical recognition of these controversies as a new type of social conflict in today’s late modern societies. The implications of this shift will be discussed for the design and evaluation of future science communication processes and practices.

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