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Accepted Contribution:

What is science? Practice theoretical analysis of people’s understandings of science and engagements in science-related practices in their everyday lives  
Milla Karvonen Kaisa Torkkeli (Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre) Daria Pritup (University of Turku) Johanna Enqvist (Finnish Science Centre Association)

Short abstract:

This interview study, based on Theory of practice, offers a new lens for interpreting people’s understandings of and engagements in science in everyday life. This directs to critical reflection on current approaches of promoting science, and to develop new possibilities for advancing equity thereof.

Long abstract:

Science education and communication practices aiming to engage people in science often echo institutionalised power structures and deficit-based approaches. There is a call for more inclusive practices and approaches to improve equity, democracy, trust in institutions, and the use of scientific knowledge in societies. Understanding how people engage with science in their everyday lives is a step towards dismantling existing hierarchies and fostering inclusivity. Current practice theory offers a novel approach and analytical lens for interpreting science-related practices as everyday performances and shared entities revealing science-related social norms.

This study explores how people engage in science in their everyday lives, how they define the concept of science and understand science-related practices. Empirical data is based on semi-structured interviews with science centre visitors and people not used to visiting such places. Results were compiled through theory-based and data-driven analysis. Regardless of participants' education or socio-economic status, people reported engagement in science-related practices primarily in the context of working life. Science-related practices were chiefly seen as positive and taken-for-granted everyday doings and sayings. However, most informants implied not being clever enough to engage in science, reflecting perceptions of the breadth of science as well as societal norms connected to institutionalised science.

Overall, this study sheds light on socially shared understandings and normativity of science, while uncovering the diversity of everyday science-related practices. It brings about a critical reflection on the academic approaches of science-promoting practitioners, directing us to develop new possibilities to advance accessibility and equity in the field of science engagement.

Combined Format Open Panel P048
Justice-oriented science communication research: sharing knowledge, building a network (papers and discussion workshop)
  Session 3 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -