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Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
Engaging with ‘activists’ and ‘alternatives’ in science communication

by Jane Gregory

‘Alternative’ and ‘activist’ are words with meanings strongly influenced by the social context of their use. Both words refer to concepts, things or people that stand in opposition to other concepts, things and people that are often taken for granted, and not elucidated. In science communication studies, ‘science’ is often an unelucidated concept. Indeed, in recent history, efforts within academia to map the perspectives on science that we might explore with the public have proven fractious, to say the least. In everyday science communication practice, however, we can readily see that there are many differing perspectives on science (and its alternatives) and on how, as the activists urge, it should (or should not) be deployed. This commentary encourages a symmetrical approach to understanding ‘alternative’ and ‘activist’ in the context of science communication, which has the potential to bring out a range of perspectives and provide a context for democratic engagement.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 09, 2016 Essay
The price of trust — a response to Weingart and Guenther

by Jane Gregory

In response to Weingart and Guenther [2016], this essay explores the issue of trust in science communication by situating it in a wider communications culture and a longer historical period. It argues that the popular scientific culture is a necessary context not only for professional science, but also for the innovation economy. Given that the neutrality of science is a myth, and that science communication is much like any other form of communication, we should not be surprised if, in an innovation economy, science communication has come to resemble public relations, both for science and for science-based innovations. The public can be sceptical of PR, and may mistrust science communication for this reason.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016