Conference Agenda

RN24_04a: Science and the public II
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Bernhard Wieser, TU Graz
Location: UP.3.213
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Citizens Engagement through the Social Impact of Science in Social Media

Gisela Redondo-Sama1, Mimar Ramis2

1University of Zaragoza; 2University of Barcelona

One of the main pillars of IMPACT-EV: Evaluating the impact and outcomes of European SSH research (2014-2017), has been the evaluation of the social impact of science. This research project has developed indicators and criteria to evaluate not only the scientific impact of research in the Social Sciences and the Humanities but also their policy and social impact. One of the core results of the project has been the creation of SIOR (the Social Impact Repository) which is the first open-access repository in the world that showcases and cites the social impact that the results of scientific research achieves. These results are also shared by researchers in the social networks, where scholarly content is becoming increasingly common. Therefore, Almetrics is a tool more and more used to evaluate the dissemination of scientific research. Less is known as to how to adequately identify the evidence of social impact among all the interactions of participants in the social media: what they are sharing, or what their opinion about of our results as scientists are. This paper presents the most recent advances in the evaluation of social impact in social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook. In so doing, emerging forms through which citizens engagement contributes to the very evaluation of the social impact of science arise. These progresses are in the line of what the EC– through its publication “Monitoring the impact of EU Framework Programmes”-, is defining as indicators of societal and policy impact for all sciences in the next research programme FP9.

The Cultural Meanings of Science: Understanding Science Identification Using the Sociology of (Non)religion

Stephen H. Jones

University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Due to its underlying normative concerns, the public understanding of science has predominantly focused on people’s knowledge of, or trust in, science. Less attention has been paid to the meanings publics attach to science and to the ways science forms part of a comprehensive philosophy and moral outlook. While this is understandable given the discipline’s interest in bridging gaps between publics and producers of scientific knowledge, this leaves unanswered questions about how science is envisaged in different contexts, how it forms part of a national or cultural identity, and how it fits into cultural politics and conflict. Based on 123 interviews and 16 focus groups conducted with mixed religious and non-religious publics and life scientists in the UK and Canada, this paper utilizes approaches common in the sociology of religion and nonreligion (where personal meaning and worldview are the primary point of concern). Using this data, I delineate varieties of science identification and how these forms of identification intersect with class, gender and cultural and political orientation. I focus in particular on how science is envisaged by nonreligious individuals who have been neglected in science studies. I tentatively map out ‘practical’, ‘moral’, ‘civilisational’ and ‘existential’ forms of identification and highlight how these forms of identification are grounded in people’s moral/cultural formation rather than knowledge.

S&T Meet Diplomacy: Dialogue between Scientists and Politicians

Paula Urze, Maria Paula Diogo


This paper aims at discussing the entanglements between science, technology and diplomacy. In recent years, there has been a stream of a growing interest in science and diplomacy by STS scholars particularly in the context of the Cold War and its aftermath. This renewed attention in science diplomacy, together with the well-known perception that science and technology are strategic assets for diplomacy opens new scientific and political avenues to build a fruitful and both formal and informal dialogue between scientists and politicians outside their respective boundaries.

The role played by a multi-layered set of actors and by international institutions in this dialogue is of outstanding importance. The agency of scientists in corporate decision-making and knowledge sharing within S&T communities raises particularly relevant issues to enlarge our perspectives on how scientists and politicians meet and discuss S&T.

This paper is based on research developed within the on-going H2020 project – InsSciDE - Inventing a shared Science Diplomacy for Europe which aims at exploring the concept of SD by bringing to the forefront both institutional actors, such as academies, and individual actors such as ambassadors, scientific attachés, and ST consultants.

InSciDE covers 6 broad themes which work on a case-study basis. These case studies are used both per se, to illustrate forms of collaboration between scientists and diplomats and as an analytical tool for understanding European SD.

We present a first version of the two Portuguese case studies we are exploring: the Ciência meetings (2016-2018) and the diplomatic response during the Fukushima crisis.

The Relationship Of Science To Its (Threatening) Outside In The Age Of Digital Media

Andreas Wenninger

Technische Universität München, Germany

Due to the increasing establishment and use of social media, there are currently intensified disputes regarding the boundaries of science. Supposed followers of anti-scienctific worldviews (esoterics, vaccination opponents, conspiracy theorists, pseudo-scientists, believers, etc.) meet scientists and science advocates in blogs and other internet portals. This leads to sometimes fierce controversies. Using the example of science blogs, I trace different patterns of boundary work between science and non-science. In addition, I show that these discussions cannot be brought to an end, but rather makes visible insoluble paradoxes. The social situatedness of science leads to the problem that the boundaries of science cannot simply be determined within the science system (e.g. by self-descriptions of scientists or by philosophy of science), but have to be formed again and again within a society and in dealing with often contrary views. Thus, this situatedness of science leads to the development of communicative strategies within the scientific community and their proponents, which aim to fight against the imagined opponents of science. Theoretically, my contribution assumes that science - like all parts of society - imagines and fights a respective 'diffuse' outside in order to stabilise its (imagined) identity. In recent years, the increasing digitalisation of science communication at the interface with society has created and intensified new challenges. This contribution is an attempt to reflect on this sociologically.