A paper I co-authored with Magda Pieczka as part of our work at the QMU Centre for Dialogue has just been published by Science and Public Policy. Access a free copy by clicking here.
This paper examines the way in which innovation in science policy in the UK over the last 25 years has been built around a discourse of changing preferences for modes of communication with citizens. The discussion, framed in debates and developments that deal with deliberative democracy and public engagement, draws on discourse analysis of key policy documents, statements made by members of the science policy network, and on interviews with public engagement practitioners.
The relationship between science and society emerges as a 25-year old project of crisis management organised into three distinct models: public understanding of science, public engagement, and public dialogue. The analysis questions the existing narrative of progress and evolution constructed around key switch points, highlights the overwhelming influence of public understanding of science approaches, and attends to the question of the viability of public dialogue as the mainstream activity in science communication and policy-making.