What science story do they tell? A comparative study of how science was presented in three different types of Taiwan’s TV programs

Author: Chun-Ju Huang – General Education Center, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Miao-Ju Jian – Department of Communication, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan
Yin-Yueh Lo – General Education Center, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Merging science into everyday life is the key reference for science communication. To understand whether science has been integrated into our daily life, popular culture has played the role of a boundary object whilst also being regarded as a sensor probe. A TV program is one of the most common channels for popular culture. This study explores what science has been regarded as to elements in Taiwan’s TV programs, and examines the implication through the comparison of different types of TV genres.

This study focuses on a medical issue. Based on different proportion of scientific knowledge in TV programs, we identified three types of genres: “Medical knowledge program”, “medical TV drama series” and “soap opera related to medicine”. We sampled six episodes for every genre, each of around 60 minutes, as per the types of genres of the analyzed targets. All the episodes were divided into different “scenes” as analysis units, and we adopted the thematic content analysis method to investigate science images shown in the three programs. With the theoretical background, the four categories included the technoscience knowledge, collective emotion, personal mood, and the human cultural environment, which were then developed as the framework to explore the features of the different genres.

The preliminary conclusions suggest: With the different science knowledge proportion within the three genres, they will focus on the different aspects of medical activities. “Medical knowledge program” will accompany with less emotion, context, culture, and vice versa than “medical TV drama series” and “soap opera related to medicine”. Thus, how to adjust the appropriate science images among the preciseness of science knowledge, the authenticity of the medical activity, and the attraction for the public, will also be addressed in this paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices