Accepted paper:

Two-way science communication in non-formal settings: The role of prosumers in health social networks


Anne BrĂ¼ninghaus (University of Hamburg)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Science communication often takes place in formal contexts. This includes policy-oriented or governmentally-sponsored settings where two-way communication is implemented to both present research results to the public and include the public in aligning research and policy.

We propose to also examine two-way communication taking place in informal settings. These are characterized by what only at first glance is one-way communication. The technological possibilities of Web 2.0, Health 3.0 and the challenge of the expert knowledge monopoly enable public actors to participate in scientific communication and weave a two-way communication into the setting. Hence, they do not only absorb information about new technologies and medical science but begin to influence science. In this context, the public assumes a new role: public actors turn into "prosumers" (Hellmann 2010) who do not only consume knowledge but combine the production and consumption of medical and scientific knowledge.

Here, we examine how science communication of consumers can be described by STS analysis, if it can be characterized as "straight communication" or two-way communication, and how prosumers influence science. As an empirical example, we draw upon Health Social Networks, social Web platforms that enable the "active participant, investigating collaborateur, information sharer" (Swan 2009) to build connections with other laypersons, and also scientists, and thus influence scientific and medical contexts. We present preliminary results regarding the form of science communication in these informal settings and the future relevance of non-certified expertise.

panel C1
Studying science communication