In this communication we will present the results of a recent survey (June 2010) on public perception of science and technology (S&T) in Brazil. The results will be compared with a similar survey realized four years ago. This survey was conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, with the collaboration of Museum of Life/Fiocruz. The interviews were realized by using a structured questionnaire with a statistically representative sample of Brazilian population aged 16 and over (2,016 respondents, with an estimated confidence interval of 95%). The questionnaire includes 24 questions, split in three sections: (i) evaluation of the interest and consumption of information on S&T; (ii) attitudes and visions on S&T; (iii) evaluation and knowledge on the situation of Brazilian science.

The survey showed that Brazilians have a good level of interest in S&T, similar to their interests in sports or economy. Medicine and health and the environmental problem were the issues with the biggest interest. One of the survey’s main objectives was to map out how the Brazilian public engages with S&T; for example, visiting scientific- cultural institutions or participating in any S&T-related event in the past year. Just 8,3% had visited science centers and museums; the figure was 4% in the 2006 survey showing a significant growing in the last four years. This number of visitors depends strongly of the social class and education. About 4,8% took part in activities of the National S&T Week (3% in the 2006 survey). Brazilians seem to have a definitely positive and optimistic view on science: about 82% said S&T brings only benefits or more benefits than harm for society. This view is general, and does not vary significantly with people’s education or social class. The main concerns about the use of S&T were related to negative environmental impacts, followed by the reduction of the employment.

Quantitative surveys have obvious limitations. For instance, they supply an instantaneous picture, without mapping out key information on the dynamic process of the engagement between science and society. These studies need to be complemented by qualitative studies, providing deeper analyses of the motivations, viewpoints and reactions of selected social groups toward S&T. We will discuss also how these surveys have been used for improving public policies and for the design of more effective science education and science communication strategies and programs. For instance, results of the 2006 survey were used within the Plan of Action for Science, Technology and Innovation for National Development (2007-2010) in the establishment of programs for the creation of new science centers around the country. These surveys can also provide useful information and political inputs for improving social inclusion and democratizing knowledge.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public perception of S&T and public policies for science communication in Brazil

Ildeu de Castro Moreira   Department of Popularization and Diffusion of Science and Technology/SECIS,Ministry of Science and Technology (Brazil)

In this communication we will present the results of a recent survey (June 2010) on public perception of science and technology (S&T) in Brazil. The results will be compared with a similar survey realized four years ago. This survey was conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, with the collaboration of Museum of Life/Fiocruz. The interviews were realized by using a structured questionnaire with a statistically representative sample of Brazilian population aged 16 and over (2,016 respondents, with an estimated confidence interval of 95%). The questionnaire includes 24 questions, split in three sections: (i) evaluation of the interest and consumption of information on S&T; (ii) attitudes and visions on S&T; (iii) evaluation and knowledge on the situation of Brazilian science.

The survey showed that Brazilians have a good level of interest in S&T, similar to their interests in sports or economy. Medicine and health and the environmental problem were the issues with the biggest interest. One of the survey’s main objectives was to map out how the Brazilian public engages with S&T; for example, visiting scientific- cultural institutions or participating in any S&T-related event in the past year. Just 8,3% had visited science centers and museums; the figure was 4% in the 2006 survey showing a significant growing in the last four years. This number of visitors depends strongly of the social class and education. About 4,8% took part in activities of the National S&T Week (3% in the 2006 survey). Brazilians seem to have a definitely positive and optimistic view on science: about 82% said S&T brings only benefits or more benefits than harm for society. This view is general, and does not vary significantly with people’s education or social class. The main concerns about the use of S&T were related to negative environmental impacts, followed by the reduction of the employment.

Quantitative surveys have obvious limitations. For instance, they supply an instantaneous picture, without mapping out key information on the dynamic process of the engagement between science and society. These studies need to be complemented by qualitative studies, providing deeper analyses of the motivations, viewpoints and reactions of selected social groups toward S&T. We will discuss also how these surveys have been used for improving public policies and for the design of more effective science education and science communication strategies and programs. For instance, results of the 2006 survey were used within the Plan of Action for Science, Technology and Innovation for National Development (2007-2010) in the establishment of programs for the creation of new science centers around the country. These surveys can also provide useful information and political inputs for improving social inclusion and democratizing knowledge.

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

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