Science’s relation with society has changed dramatically, and involving the public in the development of new technologies is undisputed. For example, the public demands a role in biotechnology and genomics research. At the same time, this public is reluctant when it is asked to participate. To gain more insight in public’s participation in science and what that means for science communication strategies, we conducted a survey and compared four different samples with each other. In the winter of 2006/2007, respondents were recruited via an internet panel, and 986 Dutch respondents without experience in gene research together with 41 respondents with experience as a patient filled in the questionnaire. Further, members of a patient group (n=68) and a group of experts in genomics research (n=45) filled in the questionnaire. We expected to find that more involvement in genomics research -work related or illness related-would lead to higher levels of passive and active participation in gene research. Thereupon, we compared the groups with regard to other aspects of their relations with gene research. Finally, we analyzed what factors determine passive and active participation. The results contribute to the understanding of the relation between the public and science. Implications for science communication strategies are given.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Participation of the public in gene research

Anne Dijkstra   University of Twente

Science’s relation with society has changed dramatically, and involving the public in the development of new technologies is undisputed. For example, the public demands a role in biotechnology and genomics research. At the same time, this public is reluctant when it is asked to participate. To gain more insight in public’s participation in science and what that means for science communication strategies, we conducted a survey and compared four different samples with each other. In the winter of 2006/2007, respondents were recruited via an internet panel, and 986 Dutch respondents without experience in gene research together with 41 respondents with experience as a patient filled in the questionnaire. Further, members of a patient group (n=68) and a group of experts in genomics research (n=45) filled in the questionnaire. We expected to find that more involvement in genomics research -work related or illness related-would lead to higher levels of passive and active participation in gene research. Thereupon, we compared the groups with regard to other aspects of their relations with gene research. Finally, we analyzed what factors determine passive and active participation. The results contribute to the understanding of the relation between the public and science. Implications for science communication strategies are given.

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