Accepted paper:

The communication of scientific knowledge: Between popularization and policy


Per Hetland (Oslo University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

When researchers communicate research findings that have important economic and social and implications, they often try to balance two different roles: the role of a popularizer and the role of a policy adviser. Consequently, two axes of interpretation structure this paper. The first axis makes sense of the rhetoric of popular science writing moving along a continuum from science boosters to science critics. The second axis makes sense of how researchers position themselves in relation to policy and politics. Toward this end, this study has selected one general controversy among researchers whose research topic is the new media technology Internet: the controversy between those who understand technological change as being continuous, as characterized by an ongoing evolution and those who understand technological change as being discontinuous, as characterized by smaller and larger revolutions. This study examines the researchers own text, not mediated by journalists, when the researchers write feature articles that are published in two national newspapers in Norway. The communication of scientific knowledge and the demarcation between popularization and policy are studied through two sub-questions. Across the two different understandings of technological change how do researchers:

a) Discuss Internet issues in terms of how to promote a critical understanding of (science and) technology in public?

b) Engage in decision-making by clarifying and seeking to expand the scope of choice available to decision-makers?

panel C1
Studying science communication