When science goes out: how do scientists understand the publics in "public understanding of science" events?
Palma Conceição, Cristina
CIES-ISCTE Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology Lisbon, Portugal
Like in most European countries, many Portuguese scientists and scientific institutions are, since the nineties, promoting an increased number of events that aim to favour a closer relationship between science and non-specialised publics - research units´ open days, science exhibitions, public debates about controversial S&T issues, open science field trips, etc.
Being a sight of change in science field and in its relationship with other spheres of contemporary society, those activities illustrate some of the major challenges and dilemmas of the processes of reflexive modernization. The communication models and the concept of publics that may inform those types of events have been often facing severe criticism in the recent literature about these topics, namely by the reviewers of the so called "deficit model" of public science communication.
Using qualitative data (mainly interviews and direct observations), this paper aims to explore those encounters of science with publics - in the making and as they really work - focusing on the way the promoters of these events understand their publics, the relationship they establish with them, the dilemmas they face and the changes that those experiences might favour.
This is a result of a PhD work in progress.