Science stories as culture: Experience, identity, narrative and emotion in public communication of science

Sarah R. Davies, Megan Halpern, Maja Horst, David A. Kirby, Bruce Lewenstein

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Abstract

The last three decades have seen extensive reflection concerning how science communication should be modelled and understood. In this essay we propose the value of a cultural approach to science communication - one that frames it primarily as a process of meaning-making. We outline the conceptual basis for this view of culture, drawing on cultural theory to suggest that it is valuable to see science communication as one aspect of (popular) culture, as storytelling or narrative, as ritual, and as collective meaning-making. We then explore four possible ways that a cultural approach might proceed: by mobilising ideas about experience; by framing science communication through identity work; by focusing on fiction; and by paying attention to emotion. We therefore present a view of science communication as always entangled within, and itself shaping, cultural stories and meanings. We close by suggesting that one benefit of this approach is to move beyond debates concerning 'deficit or dialogue' as the key frame for public communication of science.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Science Communication
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • art and literature
  • Science and technology
  • Science communication
  • theory and models

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