Accepted paper:

Deficit, deliberation, delight: STS and science communication


Sarah Davies (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Science communication - for example, science in museums, science fairs and festivals, popular science media, science blogging, sci-art activities, and university and lab open days - is a key way that lay publics encounter technoscience. In contrast to more formalised public engagement such as participatory technology assessment, consensus conferences and other deliberative formats, and upstream engagement with emerging technologies, science communication has received relatively little attention from critical STS scholarship. In this paper I discuss why this might be the case, and argue that studying science communication offers both a rich empirical site for analysis of public negotiations of science and a number of directions that could enrich STS discussion of science in democratic societies. My argument therefore falls into two sections: I start by outlining some of the reasons that those with normative commitments to a democratisation of science might be suspicious of apparently 'deficit model' science communication. I then discuss some ways in which science communication activities can be understood, both theoretically and empirically, as overflowing and exceeding the models of education or affective training that may initially be imposed on them by theorists, practitioners and participants.

panel C1
Studying science communication