Representations of science and technology

07/06/2021

When, to what extent and under what conditions autonomous driving will become common practice depends not only on the level of technical development but also on social acceptance. Therefore, the rapid development of autonomous driving systems raises the question of how the public perceives this technology. As the mass media are regarded as the main source of information for the lay audience, the news coverage is assumed to affect public opinion. The mass media are also frequently criticized for their inaccurate and biased news coverage. Against this backdrop, we conducted a content analysis of the news coverage of autonomous driving in five leading German newspapers. Findings show that media reporting on autonomous driving is not very detailed. They also indicate a slight positive bias in the balance of arguments and tonality. However, as soon as an accident involving an autonomous vehicle occurs, the frequency of reporting, as well as the extent of negativity and detail increase. We conclude that well-informed public opinion requires more differentiated reporting — irrespective of accidents.

10/05/2021

This article contributes to reflective practice amongst scientists who engage with citizens in the digital public sphere, by exploring the scientists' experiences and underlying perspectives on their role repertoires in online science-society interactions. Semi-structured interviews were held with 26 European scientists to investigate their focus and contribution in boundary interactions, perspective on appropriate model of science communication, and activities, outputs and addressees in the digital public sphere — together comprising a role repertoire. The intended role of scientists often did not match with their deployed repertoire in online interactions with citizens. Participants were left with the feeling that the digital public sphere provides hollow interactions, devaluates scientific expertise or even represents a hostile environment. In order to capitalise on the promise of the digital public sphere for constructive interactions with a diverse public, a reflective practice is needed that aligns scientists' intended contribution to science-society interactions with the scientists' perspective and deployed online repertoires.

10/05/2021

This paper explains how a participative approach was used to collect first-hand citizens’ suggestions on how to improve science communication regarding Climate Change. A public consultation involving citizens from 5 different European countries revealed various perspectives concerning their communication preferences on scientific topics. Five main themes emerged following citizens' proposals for better communication and involvement: producer of information, medium, message strategies, audiences and areas of action and engagement.

12/04/2021

Wikipedia has been accused of being biased against challengers to scientific orthodoxy due to efforts by editors having affinities with the Skeptics movement. Examination of Wikipedia, including entries on fluoridation, the origin of AIDS and vaccination, reveals several characteristics typical of a Skeptics sensibility, including the definition of scepticism, lists of deviant ideas, derogatory labelling of heterodox viewpoints, and categories established without reference to reliable sources.

01/03/2021

Germany was second in the number of March for Science participants. Applying news value theory, this article analyzes the newsworthiness of the 2018 March for Science in Germany, comparing journalistic (online) reporting on the march (N=86) and Twitter communication about #marchforscience (N=591). The results of the content analyses reveal that news factors were more frequent and reached higher intensities in journalistic reporting than on Twitter. Relevance, prominence, personalization, and influence were the news factors most emphasized by journalists. On Twitter, reach was the only news factor correlating with social media engagement (likes, comments, and retweets).

18/01/2021

This article employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine images of neurobiology published in a science news database, sampled across a two-year interval. Upon comparing the images to article headlines, the author argues that identifiable digital effects — such as blobs of bright colour, sparks of light, superimposed lines — correlate with articles reporting on new observations of neuronal action. A qualitative semiotic analysis of characteristic examples forwards the idea of a “blurry image”, denoting how audiences must cognitively blur the line between objectivity and subjectivity, between the “real” and the enhanced performative action evident in digital images tingling with vibrant life. The conclusion suggests that digital image making can increase aesthetic pleasability even as it serves as a partner in the cognitive task and, accordingly, the argumentation of the neuroscientist. Future research can investigate whether or not digital overlays and image features identified as obvious and attractive impact assessments of scientific research or alter evaluations of objectivity.

11/01/2021

Television series that mix real science and imagery science make up a fascinating genre in popular science. While previous research on entertainment media focuses on Western examples and seldom includes Asian TV series, this study explores how medicine is portrayed in four TV series located in a hospital setting which were broadcasted in Taiwan. Yet, they were produced in different cultures: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States. We found that the emphasis is more on the social contexts of medicine than on factual medical information. Yet, fictional TV series may be crucial for contextualizing science and science-based medicine.

14/12/2020

Twelve researchers from 11 countries used autoethnographic techniques, keeping diaries over 10 weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, to observe and reflect on changes in the role and cultural authority of science during important stages of viral activity and government action in their respective countries. We followed arguments, discussions and ideas generated by mass and social media about science and scientific expertise, observed patterns and shifts in narratives, and made international comparisons. During regular meetings via video conference, the participating researchers discussed theoretical approaches and our joint methodology for reflecting on our observations. This project is informed by social representations theory, agenda-setting, and frames of meaning associated with the rise and fall of expertise and trust. This paper presents our observations and reflections on the role and authority of science in our countries from March 10 to May 31, 2020. This is the first stage of a longer-term project that aims to identify, analyse and compare changes in science-society relationships over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

30/09/2020

The emergence of COVID-19 represented a critical problem for the legitimacy and prestige of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese authorities had to fight not only to contain the spread of the virus but also to create a favorable public opinion about how they managed the crisis. Based on Foucault's approach to the “Regime of Truth”, this article analyzes the narrative surrounding the origin of the virus and how science was employed to lend it legitimacy. The article concludes by reviewing how the idea of science as a truth knowledge is used to construct a particular viewpoint, one focused on legitimizing the outbreak containment measures taken by the Chinese government.

08/06/2020

The years of the protests marked a period of social turmoil in Italy. The critical impulses that developed within worker and student groups had political effects even on science. This paper aims to offer a historiographical description of some stages of the relationship between scientists and protesting movements, going back over the developments in science communication in Italy between the late sixties and the seventies, focusing on the case of Lucio Lombardo Radice and his work as a TV populariser. The reinterpretation of the recent past could be useful to better understand the contemporary developments in science communication from a historical perspective.

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