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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The Structure of Scientific Communication

Marlit Hayslett  

This paper examines science communication within a public policy setting from the critical theory of structuralism. After reviewing the existing theoretical grounding for communicating science, I propose a five-dimensional structural analysis of science communication: 1) the structure of the relationship between the scientist and the policymaker; 2) the structure of the message purpose; 3) the structure of the communication experience; 4) the structure of the message form; and 5) the structure of the message itself. If these structures are honored, likelihood of successful scientific communication with the policymaking audience is high. If these structures are violated, it is unlikely that successful scientific communication with the policymaking will be achieved. Employing Dr. Albert Einstein's 1939 letter to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an example, I argue that meaning is created as a function of structure rather than content. I conclude with a critique of the limitations of this analysis and suggestions for future research.

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