Science and socioenvironmental problems: Discourses in the urban context of Guadalajara, Mexico

Science and socioenvironmental problems: Discourses in the urban context of Guadalajara, Mexico

Author: Susana Herrera – Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), Mexico

This work, situated in the intersection between public communication of science and environmental communication, approaches the contested discourses about science in urban contexts related with socioenvironmental problems. The goal is to show the challenges presented to the science communicator due the diversity of narratives about the role of science set out by different involved social actors. The case of study has been the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara, in Jalisco, México.

The understanding of particularities of socioenvironmental problems in urban contexts demands knowledge from very diverse sources: specialized scientific knowledge, from both natural and social sciences, as well as the knowledge associated with the experience of the city residents and other social actors. As it will be shown, science is perceived, valuated and represented differently and in diverse forms across discourses which come from actors situated in different specific social contexts, and hence it acquires diverse connotations and attributions.

Critical discourse analysis has been applied as theoretical and methodological perspective for analyzing workshops, meetings and interviews with scientists, citizen organizations, museographers and journalists, all of them involved in science communication activities or projects related with socioenvironmental problems. It has been possible to identify the way these actors discursively construct science and scientific knowledge, as well as the role they play in comprehension, explanation and possible solutions of socioenvironmental urban problematics. Main challenges, obstacles and problems about “what” and “how” to communicate, from the specific field of science communication have also been identified.

The analysis has shown some coincidences among social actors’ discourses: demanding a mediator role from science communicators, considering they should question science communication models that place knowledge in the center of communication, placing instead socioenvironmental problematic in the first place, and promoting dialogue between multiple disciplinary perspectives as well as interlocution between specialized knowledge and knowledge built from experience.

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Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices