Science capital and the justice system

Science capital and the justice system

Author: Oceane Laisney – University of Dundee – Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, United Kingdom


  • Heather Doran – University of Dundee,
  • Lucina Hackman – University of Dundee, United Kingdom

Within the justice system many individuals are required to make decisions relating to scientific evidence. In the case of a criminal investigation, many non-scientists are involved with evidence capture, communicating and decision making and their actions and understanding of the situation and the decisions they make is of prime importance since it impacts on criminal trials, convictions and sentencing. This project will explore how the understanding of Science capital might be applied in this environment. The concept of Science Capital has its origins in research in education (Archer et al., 2015), however the theory is gradually being applied to adult understanding, practice and policy in other professional areas.

This insight paper will outline our proposed approaches to considering Science capital in this ecosystem and how it might support effective communication and understanding of forensic science amongst professionals within the justice system. This will be the first time that Science capital has been considered in this sphere.

Results could lead to improving how scientific theories and practices are communicated between the various groups involved in decision making based on forensic science including professional non-scientists and scientists and forensic scientists and members of the public, including the jury. In conclusion, by closely examining the Science capital of professional non-scientists in forensic science and engaging these diverse groups, this project will shed new light on the neglected issue of decision making based on scientific evidence.

Archer, L., Dawson, E., DeWitt, J., Seakins, A., & Wong, B. (2015). “Science capital”: A conceptual, methodological, and empirical argument for extending bourdieusian notions of capital beyond the arts. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

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

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation