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(2011) The social psychology of communication, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Science communication

Jane Gregory

pp. 300-315

A common stereotype of the scientist is of someone withdrawn from society and isolated from its values (Haynes, 1994; Howard, 2007). However, modern science rarely generates knowledge and products from such individuals: instead, it is a collective enterprise, organised via collaboration and competition among groups that may be multidisciplinary and geographically dispersed (Wagner, 2009). The professional norms of the scientific community demand that knowledge and practice be open to scrutiny, conducted without prejudice and shared widely (Merton, 1968). So science is, ideally, a public activity, and secrecy, private ownership, and personal knowledge are the hallmarks of invalid knowledge. Scientists function not so much through a profession, bound together, for example, by common accreditation, nor as a trade, bound by common skills, but as a community in which a wide diversity of knowledges, practices, objects, and people are held together by communication. (The idea of a community-formed-by-communication is one of this book's central motifs; see for example Chapter 12's discussion of religion as communication, and Chapter 7's discussion of how the representations of marginalised communities can bolster threatened identities.) According to sociologist of science John Ziman, "the fundamental social institution of science is … its system of communication" (Ziman, 1984, 2002).

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230297616_16

Full citation:

Gregory, J. (2011)., Science communication, in D. Hook, B. Franks & M. W. Bauer (eds.), The social psychology of communication, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 300-315.

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