Author: Lucia Martinelli – MUSE – Science museum. Italy

Individual and collective responsibility, trust in the institutions and credibility of the public health communication are crucial to motivate citizens to adopt/refuse the mandatory measures aimed at containing SARS-CoV-2 spread. Besides lockdown and physical distancing, facemask wearing is a main public health measure recommended. Although a “simple” protection tool, facemask can be understood as a sophisticated technological devise because of the load of personal and social perception attributed to its use/not use. A better understanding of citizens’ perception toward this personal protection device is required to design effective health communication to motivate the acceptability of the policies to contain present pandemic, as well as future global crisis. With this purpose, focusing on the facemask wearing, in May 2020, we collected observational testimonies from 29 scholars, members of an interdisciplinary research network on health and society, leaving in 20 European countries, South Korea and China. Participants wrote open-ended texts, answering to questions regarding rules adopted in their country, individual/personal attitude and practice, their view about other people behavior, and interpersonal interactions. The narratives (collected as an open source for research purpose: were analyzed thematically with the method of qualitative descriptive analysis. They are valuable commentaries describing national public health regulations, personal facemask use, and behaviors of citizens in various countries. This study highlights how social and personal practices of wearing (or not) face masks are influenced by individual perceptions of infection risk, personal interpretation of responsibility and solidarity, cultural and religious tradition, personal interpretations of social and cultural norms and need of expressing self-identity. Interestingly, the facemask was also described as a visual communication tool and a new way to communicate during times of lockdown and isolation. Finally, wearing (or not) face mask showed to be an ideological symbol and to have a strong political meaning.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time

Author: Lucia Martinelli – MUSE – Science museum, Italy


  • Patrizia Famí – MUSE – Science museum, Italy
  • Lucia Martinelli – MUSE – Science museum, Italy

How much do we know, would we like/fear to know about our physical and psychological genetic traits – whether we like them or not – and about talents and diseases recurring in our families? Is it a question of a “destiny” marked by genetic inheritance, life styles or epigenetics? The growing technology and knowledge about human genome is discovering markers for genes involved in diseases and may anticipate predisposition awareness. Genomic information is available in genetic tests also accessible on the Internet. Regarding health, the easy access to this knowledge offers both opportunities and difficult choices, and the risk of a new genetic determinism. During the 2018 and 2019, we collected a number of visitors” narratives regarding visions and concerns about their own genetic predispositions, traits, attitudes and personality. These stories of “everyday-genetics” were written by the public on a notebook in the main MUSE temporary exhibition “The Human Genome. What makes us unique”. The notebook was displayed in a cozy corner of an immersive scenography reproducing a square to engage museum’s visitors in the private and the social implications of genomic technology development, and to stimulate their willingness to share their intimate stories. Here, visitors could hear narratives we conceived ad hoc: they were inspired by real cases available in the scientific literature, in the media, and on the Internet and websites of medical and patient organizations. The confidences left by our visitors are a fresh collection about citizens” awareness and knowledge on personal genetics and offer interesting feedback to better develop public our engagement activities regarding biomedical topics. Moreover, in our projects involving stakeholders of the medical field, they can give interesting insights to support a patient-centered medicine based on a better knowledge of citizens” feelings about their own genetics and may contribute to a more empathic patient/medical doctor communication.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Technology