Posted by: soniahs | September 28, 2010

Exam reading: “Towards an analytical framework”

In this chapter, Brian Trench comments on various models for science communication. “Towards an Analytical Framework of Science Communication Models” from Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New Models, New Practices.

Summary: Trench posits that the deficit to dialogue model transition has been overstated in sci. comm. circles (it’s more a normative recommendation than a descriptive assessment.) He puts science comm. into the broader context of communications theory (e.g., active audience, risk comm. composed of hazard (probability) + outrage (subjective elements)) and education (e.g., inquiry- and project-based learning). The process of dialogue is not free of power relations, and in practice “dialogue” is often like marketing/message tailoring research. While there is evidence of trends toward more open dialogue (open public debate, scientists active in NGOs), the converse is also true, esp. because of the knowledge economy (commodification of knowledge, the cultural/social values of science are obscured). Overall, the deficit model is still used for much of sci comm (appropriately, in some cases); there’s really a continuum of “dialogue.” His framework goes from deficit to dialogue to participation models. More specifically, deficit includes defense of science and marketing; dialogue includes context, consultation, engagement of public; and participation includes deliberation and critique. He briefly discusses the philosophical/ideological implications of this spectrum.

Comments: Provides a counterpoint to idea of thorough deficit-dialogue shift. In contrast to Shamos, states that scientism is wide trend among scientists, and related to assumption of deficit; their definitions of scientism are different.

Links to: Bucchi (similar discussion of lack of deficit-dialogue binary); Shamos (characterizes scientism as anti-science, not a majority scientific view)



  1. […] to: Trench (risk=hazard + outrage); Irwin (risk from communications perspective); Nisbet […]

  2. […] to: Trench-“Analytical Framework” (assessment of the place of “engagement” […]

  3. […] here’s an applied example of the “deficit-dialogue” non-transition. Peter Groffman, Cathlyn Stylinski, Matthew C. Nisbet, Carlos M. Duarte, Rebecca Jordan, Amy […]


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