'What becomes of science in a science centre? Reconfiguring science for public consumption'

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This paper draws upon ten interviews conducted with staff at two science centres as part of a research project on science centres and social and cultural inclusion. We will argue that these science centres have developed a highly differentiated configuration of science that stands at some removes from the standard conception of science as a highly structured body of scientific knowledge and expertise – what in this paper we call ‘official science’. Our concern is to examine how ‘official science’ is mediated, re-inflected and re-interpreted in science centres. We will highlight the factors, circumstances and objectives that combine to re-inflect official science, and reframe it as a communicable, relevant and engaging set of exhibits, activities and events. Central to this reframing are the ways in which official science is relayed, relocated, recontextualized – in short, pedagogized and popularized – mainly through breaking down some of the distance between the lived experiences of visitors and prospective visitors from socio-cultural and socio-economic groups often underrepresented among the science centres' audiences, and the lived experiences of scientists themselves. This is done by more or less directly representing official science as a socially relevant, human, potentially enjoyable and contestable set of socio-cultural practices. As a consequence, science centres have a potentially significant role to play in contributing to new constructions of science in the public imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)203 - 228
Number of pages26
JournalThe Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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