Bertoldo Raquel

26 février 2021

Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale (UR 849), AMU

Science-society dynamics as social change processes

Invitée par ECOLAB


Modern societies are under constant change. Social representations theory (SRT) proposes interesting theoretical tools to analyse how scientific activities changed human-environment relations. In this presentation I will illustrate through three studies how “scientific facts” are either created or create epistemological and social change : the first within the scientific community ; the second by the press and the third through four nationally representative European samples.

A first set of studies proposes to demonstrate how the idea of expertise might hide more diversity within a scientific field than what is assumed. Here risk perceptions of nanoproducts are compared across a broad variety of scientific backgrounds (Bertoldo et al., 2016). Results show that hard scientists attribute less risks to new nanoproducts, while life and social scientists tend to attribute more.

Then a point is made about how the idea of a “natural risk”, more precisely that of coastal flood, is invested with different meanings by the press during the different reporting phases of the issue (1) is only presented by the scientific community ; (2) is observed through a catastrophe, the storm Xynthia ; and (3) justifies the implementation of new laws and regulations for coastal adaptation to climate change (Lelaurain et al., in press).

A third study inquires how the assumptions the public makes about science and scientific knowledge influences how climate related scientific uncertainty is interpreted. Results show that more binary models of science (either/or) have difficulties in dealing with uncertainty and can be more prone to climate-sceptic arguments (Bertoldo et al., 2019).

These studies consider the evolving social epistemologies within scientific – and interdisciplinary - communities mirror wider socioeconomical dynamics. The type of representations and the social processes that illustrate the modern science-society relations will be discussed.

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