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Accepted Contribution:

The co-construction of science and structural inequalities through popular culture: the experiences of cultural producers  
Emily Dawson (University College London)

Short abstract:

This paper discusses the practices of cultural producers who work on science in popular culture, in the mass media, museums and science centres and activism. It examines how their work constructs science and society relationships, complete with structural inequalities.

Long abstract:

Contemporary popular culture is steeped in science in the UK. But what does this mean for how science and society relationships are constructed from a justice-oriented perspective? We already know, for instance, that the dominant institutions of public science are largely the preserve of the most privileged groups in our societies. Everyday, popular culture seems to offer something different, but does it really? That science and society are mutually constitutive is a central tenet of science and technology studies. While popular culture is a key part of this landscape, we know remarkably little about how they mediate relationships between science and society. Popular culture remains therefore a crucial political space for researchers. This study examined science in popular culture by looking at the experiences and practices of those who produce it (cultural producers) in three areas; the mass media, museums and science centres and activists/community organisers. These three groups were identified as representing quite differently organised industries and access to power in order to open up a new space to think about the co-construction of science and society relationships. The study found the work of popular culture producers to be riddled with tensions, many fought for workforce diversity while reproducing colonial tropes in their programmes or exhibitions. The study found that structural inequalities, power and science stories were intertwined in contemporary popular culture in ways that draw on, reproduce, mediate and, at times, transform science and society relationships about whose knowledges, practices or communities matter.

Combined Format Open Panel P048
Justice-oriented science communication research: sharing knowledge, building a network (papers and discussion workshop)
  Session 2 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -