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Public attention to science, 1820‐2010 - a ‘longue duree’ picture

Bauer, Martin W. (2012) Public attention to science, 1820‐2010 - a ‘longue duree’ picture. In: Rodder, Simone, Franzen, Martina and Weingart, Peter, (eds.) The Sciences’ Media Connection: Public Communication and Its Repercussions. Sociology of the sciences yearbook (28). Springer Berlin / Heidelberg, London, UK, pp. 35-58. ISBN 9789400720848

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-94-007-2085-5_3


Quantitative evidence from a number of historical and more recent sources indicate that the amount of science news in the mass media is not a constant; science news comes in irregular waves. The chapter constructs a continuous time-series index of expansion and of contraction between 1820 and 2010, locates the ‘high’ and ‘low’ years of news coverage, presents these as an indicator of fluctuating public attention to science that is corroborated by period studies. Six competing hypotheses are examined to explain the coming and going of public attention, of which the paradox of public communication of science, i.e. the re-enchantment of a disenchanted world, is the most promising one. The ‘longue duree’ picture, recovering nearly 200 years, shows that the recent expansion of science news making since the 1980s is historically unprecedented, and the chronology of ups and downs in public attention could constitute the spine of a historical narrative of the public understanding of science that still needs to be weaved into text.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Springer
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2012 10:01
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 09:46

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