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Public Underst Sci. 2018 Oct;27(7):772-786. doi: 10.1177/0963662517750072. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Reimagining publics and (non) participation: Exploring exclusion from science communication through the experiences of low-income, minority ethnic groups.

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1
University College London, UK.

Abstract

This article explores science communication from the perspective of those most at risk of exclusion, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork. I conducted five focus groups and 32 interviews with participants from low-income, minority ethnic backgrounds. Using theories of social reproduction and social justice, I argue that participation in science communication is marked by structural inequalities (particularly ethnicity and class) in two ways. First, participants' involvement in science communication practices was narrow (limited to science media consumption). Second, their experiences of exclusion centred on cultural imperialism (misrepresentation and 'Othering') and powerlessness (being unable to participate or change the terms of their participation). I argue that social reproduction in science communication constructs a narrow public that reflects the shape, values and practices of dominant groups, at the expense of the marginalised. The article contributes to how we might reimagine science communication's publics by taking inclusion/exclusion and the effects of structural inequalities into account.

KEYWORDS:

exclusion; public participation; science communication; science museums; social justice; television

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