PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Public communication of (counter) science on the Internet. The case of Polish anti-GMO activists.

Iwona ZieliÅ„ska  

Since the role and place of science has changed by highlighting the significance of knowledge for economy and society (knowledge-based economy, knowledge society), the distance between science and society has got shortened, redefining the relationship between the two. Additionally, various activists groups - NGOs, environmentalists and local grassroots organizations - express publicly concerns about new science and technology. They often point to experts' inability to anticipate future consequences of present technology, or may in fact participate in the dynamics of science production by funding their own research and quoting their own experts, and thus producing a counter-scientific discourse. The presentation focuses on the results of an analysis of creation and communication of counter-discourse of the Polish anti-GMO organizations on the Internet. The tools offered by Web 2.0 - like social network websites (Facebook, Twitter), discussion boards and (to a lesser extend) websites, seem like a 'natural environment' for any activists contesting the mainstream science. This pose a real challenge to the scientific discourse, yet the role of various pressure groups in PCS and its use of the Internet communication has not been researched much. The presentation seeks to address following questions: What are the main communication strategies used by anti-GMO activists to propagate they massage? How do they involve individuals in creating counter-scientific discourse? With what results? What scientific evidence do they use to legitimate their arguments? Who are the experts supporting their stance? Do they get engaged in discussions with the proponents of mainstream scientific discourse on GMO? Is there a lesson the mainstream scientists can learn from anti-GMO activist in PCS? The results of the analysis will be set against public surveys regarding the attitudes and opinions on GMO to see if the topics and arguments of the anti-GMO activist are reflected somewhat in a wider society.

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