Public representations of science are influenced not only by research itself, but also by the cultural context where they develop, and both science and its popularisation are laden with cultural and ideological values. In the Spanish public sphere of the late seventies and early eighties, when the country was defining most of its public policies after 40 years of dictatorship, most of the actors were very aware of the political values involved in human genetics (which they identified with right-wing positions) and preferred environmental and psychological explanations for most behaviours and diseases. But coinciding with the growth of Spanish participation in genetic research and the biomedical industry, the critics vanished. It was not just a shift among scientists. At the end of the century, journalists —closer to biological scientists than before, accepted with no questioning, the experts’ discourses and presented this scientific field in very laudatory terms.

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Media coverage of human genetics in Spain
The case of EL PAÍS (1976-2002)

Matiana González Silva   Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

Public representations of science are influenced not only by research itself, but also by the cultural context where they develop, and both science and its popularisation are laden with cultural and ideological values. In the Spanish public sphere of the late seventies and early eighties, when the country was defining most of its public policies after 40 years of dictatorship, most of the actors were very aware of the political values involved in human genetics (which they identified with right-wing positions) and preferred environmental and psychological explanations for most behaviours and diseases. But coinciding with the growth of Spanish participation in genetic research and the biomedical industry, the critics vanished. It was not just a shift among scientists. At the end of the century, journalists —closer to biological scientists than before, accepted with no questioning, the experts’ discourses and presented this scientific field in very laudatory terms.

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