Special Issue on Communication at the Intersection of Science and Politics

Call for papers


Innovative research papers sought for a themed issue on science policy communication


Birte Fähnrich & Alexander Ruser

Zeppelin University, Germany


In emerging and advanced knowledge societies (Stehr 1994), political actors are increasingly dependent on scientific expertise in order to adequately address highly complex social problems and to legitimize political action. Science thus has become a source of political and public consultation and scientific policy advice has increasingly institutionalized itself over the past decades. However, the boundary between neutral scientific expertise and opinion-based statements has become fluid (Turner 2003; Ruser in press). Prominent examples include the highly politicized discourse on climate science and climate politics in the US and economic advice given in the context of the European currency crisis. Moreover, an increased public positioning of scientists on societal and political issues has been demanded in recent time, e.g. in the context of the emergence of right-wing populist movements in the Western world (Fähnrich & Lüthje 2017). Finally, new actors such as think tanks, NGOs and corporations have entered the science communication stage, which increasingly use scientific information, but in the context of their strategic objectives. Thus, communication from these actors may influence public perception of science in as yet unexplored ways. Accordingly, a wide range of both solid and reliable but also uneasy relationships have been established at the border between science and politics which deserve closer attention. This call invites research papers and essays that explore the communication at the intersection of science and politics and thus contribute to our understanding of this novel area of science communication. Papers considering issues under the following themes are particularly welcome:

  • Modes: Diverse forms of science-policy interaction reaching from non-public interpersonal consultation to public and digital activities;

  • Issues: Science-policy communication in particular fields of expertise, e.g. climate change, the challenges of demographic change, economic crises and global financial capitalism

  • Reach: Interactions on regional, national and supranational level;

  • Actors: Different actors in science, politics and society involved in these fields of science communication, e.g. concerning their status and background, motives and objectives, role models and perceptions;

  • Effects: assessments and evaluations of the activities, public perceptions of science-policy-interaction;

  • Challenges: Normative and ethical considerations, the “politization” of science and the hollowing out of democratic decision-making.

Submission and deadline

We invited contributions from communication science and related disciplines. Full papers should contain a clear outline of the argument, the theoretical framework, and, where applicable, the methodology and results. The maximum length is 7,000 words (including references). Papers should be submitted in accordance with the overall JCOM guidelines (https://jcom.sissa.it/jcom/help/helpLoader.jsp?pgType=author).


Launch of Call for Papeers: February 2018

Deadline for Full Papers: June 30th, 2018


Fähnrich, B. & Lüthje, C. (2017). Public Roles of Social Scientists in Crisis Media Reporting – The Example of the German PEGIDA Discourse, Science Communication. DOI: 10.1177/1075547017715472

Ruser, A. (in press). Experts and science and politics. In S. P. Turner & W. Outhwatite (Eds.), The Sage handbook of political sociology (2 Volumes). London, England: Sage.

Stehr, N. (1994). Knowledge societies. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Turner, S. P. (2003). Liberal democracy 3.0. London: Sage.