Over the last decade, challenges to the main assumptions of classical administrative research have shaped the scholarly debate on Public Understanding of Science, not without consequences for Science Communication practices and the evaluative dimensions of its impact on lay-people thoughts and attitudes regarding science. But the field still lacks a strong, well-developed theory capable of replacing those questionned stances of the quantitative programme, notwithstanding all the efforts in building an alternative frame. This paper presents some ideas in advance on a topic currently recognized as a significant task for future research: how matters of trust, confidence and credibility pervade the links between experts and the public, much more than the scientific literacy emphasized on previous cognitive-centered analysis. We will suggest that an approach based on the epistemology of testimony might be of great relevance to understand the way this relationship is built and developed. Our aim, on the one hand, is to focus on the general conditions under which credibility of and reasonable trust in science and scientists are developed, restricted or denied, in stable environments -i.e., not in controversial circumstances when both are predictably already in crisis. On the other hand, we will examine how science communication may contribute to promote better conditions for epistemic exchange. Section 1 will briefly outline the contribution of recent approaches that have criticized the traditional hard core of the field: the déficit model, the thesis of linear dependence of attitudes on knowledge, and the pervasiveness of quantitative survey research. In Section 2 we will present our own proposal: the analysis of the interaction between experts and the public in terms of epistemic interdependence, that is, the conditions the latter require for accepting the words of the former, and the way in which science communication mediates in the process of assessing reliability and trustworthiness. Concluding remarks will examine the way in which this approach might change not only conceptual and methodological frameworks of research but also influence the design, development and assesment of impacts of science communication practices.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Promoting good epistemic practices. Public Communication of Science and Technology far beyond popularization

Carina Cortassa   Autonomous University of Madrid

Over the last decade, challenges to the main assumptions of classical administrative research have shaped the scholarly debate on Public Understanding of Science, not without consequences for Science Communication practices and the evaluative dimensions of its impact on lay-people thoughts and attitudes regarding science. But the field still lacks a strong, well-developed theory capable of replacing those questionned stances of the quantitative programme, notwithstanding all the efforts in building an alternative frame. This paper presents some ideas in advance on a topic currently recognized as a significant task for future research: how matters of trust, confidence and credibility pervade the links between experts and the public, much more than the scientific literacy emphasized on previous cognitive-centered analysis. We will suggest that an approach based on the epistemology of testimony might be of great relevance to understand the way this relationship is built and developed. Our aim, on the one hand, is to focus on the general conditions under which credibility of and reasonable trust in science and scientists are developed, restricted or denied, in stable environments -i.e., not in controversial circumstances when both are predictably already in crisis. On the other hand, we will examine how science communication may contribute to promote better conditions for epistemic exchange. Section 1 will briefly outline the contribution of recent approaches that have criticized the traditional hard core of the field: the déficit model, the thesis of linear dependence of attitudes on knowledge, and the pervasiveness of quantitative survey research. In Section 2 we will present our own proposal: the analysis of the interaction between experts and the public in terms of epistemic interdependence, that is, the conditions the latter require for accepting the words of the former, and the way in which science communication mediates in the process of assessing reliability and trustworthiness. Concluding remarks will examine the way in which this approach might change not only conceptual and methodological frameworks of research but also influence the design, development and assesment of impacts of science communication practices.

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