PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Science never speaks for itself
Transforming perspectives on the communication of science, belief and society

James RileyUniversity of Birmingham. United Kingdom


  • Alexander HallUniversity of Birmingham   United Kingdom
  • Stephen JonesUniversity of Birmingham   United Kingdom
  • Carissa SharpUniversity of Birmingham   United Kingdom
Science never speaks for itself, rather its communication is undergirded by sets of often-unspoken beliefs. This multidisciplinary session draws upon sociological, psychological, historical and media studies approaches to interrogate issues in the communication of the relations between science, belief and society. The issues discussed in this session include the singular focus on creationists in press discourse around attitudes to evolution, the effects of Richard Dawkins' anti-religious statements on religiosity and science identification, the changing institutional forces shaping the versions of science which have appeared on the BBC, and how imagined audiences shape both ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ representations of science on British television. The thematic link between these papers is that science never ‘speaks for itself’. Institutions and individuals’ beliefs shape the versions of science communicated to the public, and thus also frame how that version of science can and does relate to society. Accordingly, the papers in this session focus on both the changing institutional forces that shape the versions of science and science-society relations communicated to publics, as well as the effects of ideologically-framed messages on individuals’ identification with science.

Following the presentation of the linked papers, chair Professor Fern-Elsdon Baker will lead a discussion linking the themes of the papers, placing the arguments in a broader international context of issues relating to science, belief, and society.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Category: Linked papers
Theme: Transformation