PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


What’s missing in science communication?
New perspectives for practice and research

Sarah Davies  

Science communication is at an interesting moment. As science and technology are framed as the means that societies can innovate their way out of economic crisis, governments are investing more in communication activities that will, it is hoped, recruit workers into science, develop educated and supportive publics, and smooth relations between science and society. At the same time, European and national initiatives continue to emphasise the need for responsibility, responsiveness, and care in technoscientific development. The key argument of this panel is that this period of growth and change in science communication requires similar renewal in the theoretical and conceptual approaches we bring to its analysis. Back in 2002, Mike Michael argued that even the most theoretically divergent scholarship of PUS tended to draw on the same basic concepts, including "humanism (an emphasis on the pure person), incorporeality (a neglect of embodiment), and discrete sites (science and the public are presupposed as separate entities)". Many years later, we think that science communication research could still benefit from an influx of different conceptual and disciplinary resources. How might the study of temporality, or futures, or organisations, or citizenship (for instance) help us critically analyse instances of science communication, and develop our activities as practitioners? What are the things our scholarship is not noticing, and how can we find methods to observe and reflect on these things? The panel comprises four presentations, each reflecting on a particular perspective that is often 'missing' but which we think offers fruitful new lines of enquiry for research and practice: Maja Horst: Organisations Ulrike Felt: Time Alan Irwin: Democracy Sarah Davies: Silence Brian Trench will then act as discussant, commenting on the themes and issues we have identified.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.