Debating evolutions in science, technology and society: Ethical and ideological perspectives


Every new advance in science and in technology, every evolution in society, politics and culture brings with it the need to update linguistic resources at different levels in order to be able to talk about them and accommodate new concepts. This leads to the emergence of new representations and new discourses which pertain not only to the specialized domains of science and technology, or to those of sociology or political science, but become part and parcel of public discourses addressing ordinary citizens and affecting everyday life and choices. These public discourses involve the transfer of domain-specific knowledge to various non-specialist audiences and its recontextualization in a type of discourse that is very different from the type of discourse in which it was originally cast, if only because it is aimed at disseminating knowledge and making it more accessible. As the process of transformation requires the conceptual and linguistic processing of knowledge for the benefit of the non-specialist, it can never be neutral. Even when the writer has the best intentions in terms of accuracy and honesty, what is provided in each case is one version – often simplified or reduced – of the relevant knowledge among the many versions that could be given. The articles in this special issue address the topic of knowledge dissemination as a concept and as a practice, and investigate the discursive representations of a variety of topical issues in contemporary society, ranging from nanotechnologies, to bioethics, to scientific research findings, but also including political discourses – such as Brexit, or the discourse of doping – and academic discourses and practices. The findings suggest that framing, selecting and perspectivising are routinely used in knowledge dissemination and transmission, and indicate that these aspects play a key role in all popularising discourses.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v34

Keywords: knowledge dissemination; bioethics; ethics and discourse; science and technology in the media; media representations of social issues

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