Communicating the social sciences

A Cassidy

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Abstract

This chapter reviews the sparse and somewhat scattered research literature that has specifically addressed the public communication of the social sciences (PCSS). This literature, in common with much research on the public communication of science and technology (PCST), lacks consistency or indeed clear definitions of what is meant by ‘social science’, ‘natural science’ and indeed, ‘science’. Analyses of social science media coverage indicate that the social sciences are communicated in some quite different patterns from those seen with natural science research. Some authors have suggested that this may be due to the overlap between the subject matter of social science research (people), and experiential, ‘common sense’ knowledge. Other relevant literature, on ‘self-help’ psychology books, public intellectuals, and social scientists as expert witnesses. There is an urgent need for more consistent, systematic research addressing PCSS, in order to understand better the general issues involved in communicating expertise and those faced specifically by the social sciences. Researchers in PCST should reflect on these issues in order to address reflexively how we communicate publicly about our field, just as we seek to advise other researchers on how best to communicate in the public domain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology
EditorsM Bucchi, B Trench
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Pages225-236
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-38617-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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