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Lost in translation: Discourses, boundaries and legitimacy in the public understanding of science in the UK.

Lock, S.J.; (2008) Lost in translation: Discourses, boundaries and legitimacy in the public understanding of science in the UK. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis documents the historical development of debates around the public understanding of science in the UK from 1985 until 2005. Testimonies from key actors involved in the evolution of the recent public understanding of science arena, and an examination of documentary evidence, have been used to map out how this issue was problematised by scientists in the mid-1980s, and how it has developed into a contested field of activity, political interest and academic research. I propose that this historical period can be broadly understood in four phases each characterised by a dominant discourse of the public understanding of science. I examine how, within each phase, the various groups involved have engaged in boundary work: rhetorically constructing, and mobilising, ideas of 'science', 'the public', and the perceived 'problem' in the relationship between the two, in the pursuit of defining and legitimating themselves and these definitions of the relationship between science and public. Phase I is characterised as a rhetorical re-framing of earlier 'problems' of the public understanding of science by scientists and scientific institutions in the context of the 1980s. Phase II is dominated by the boundary work between scientists and social scientists as they contended for legitimacy and authority over competing discourses of public understanding of science and the institutionalisation of PUS activity and research. Phase III is characterised by a variety of discursive formulations of the 'problem' of PUS following the House of Lords report (2000) and a subsequent change in the rhetoric of public understanding of science to one of public engagement. Phase IV is dominated by the language of 'upstream engagement' and identifies the political interest in managing science's relationship with the public and the social scientific responses to this.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Lost in translation: Discourses, boundaries and legitimacy in the public understanding of science in the UK.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592551
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445233
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