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Jul 21, 2021 Article
Science communicators intimidated: researchers' freedom of expression and the rise of authoritarian populism

by Esa Valiverronen and Sampsa Saikkonen

In this article, we explore scientists' freedom of expression in the context of authoritarian populism. Our particular case for this analysis is Finland, where the right-wing populist Finns Party entered the government for the first time in 2015. More recently, after leaving the government in 2017, the party has been the most popular party in opinion polls in 2021. We illustrate the current threats to Finnish researchers' freedom of expression using their responses on three surveys, made in 2015, 2017 and 2019. We focus on politically motivated disparagement of scientists and experts, and the scientists' experiences with online hate and aggressive feedback. Further, we relate these findings to the recent studies on authoritarian populism and science-related populism. We argue that this development may affect researchers' readiness to communicate their research and expertise in public.

Volume 20 • Issue 04 • 2021

Sep 30, 2020 Article
Liberalists and data-solutionists: redefining expertise in Twitter debates on coronavirus in Finland

by Esa Valiverronen, Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, Mikko Jauho and Piia Jallinoja

Based on recent accounts of the sociology of expertise, we analyse the public contestation and expansion of expertise in the context of COVID-19. During the epidemic, the expertise of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), became increasingly contested. By exploring Twitter discussions concerning the actions of THL during the first months of the epidemic from January to mid-June 2020, we analyse the main motivations and arguments in this public contestation as well as the alternative forms of expertise proposed by the critics. We focus particularly on two forms of criticism arguing for what we call networked expertise: liberal crowdsourcing supporters and data-solutionists presenting alternative epidemiological models.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Apr 08, 2014 Article
Framing engagement: expert-youth interaction in a PES event

by Sampsa Saikkonen and Esa Valiverronen

Previous studies on public engagement with science have identified various difficulties in the encounters between experts and lay people. However, there is a scarcity of research investigating expert-youth interaction. In this paper we focus on the interactive framings of an informal PES event. Based on a case study involving a climate change panel discussion and a simultaneous online chat, both aimed at young people, we discuss the multiplicity of framing. Further, we look for “misbehaviours” which challenge the rationality and norms of the event. Our findings indicate that the frame of deliberative participation is very fragile.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014