In Search of Dialogue: Staging Science Communication in Consensus Conferences

  • Maja Horst


Controversies about science and technology are often understood as problems of poor communication between science and society. Based on the academic tradition of studies in the public understanding of science, the chapter identifies three different models for the communicative relationship between science and its publics (the model of diffusion, the model of deliberation and the model of negotiation). The author then applies those models to the specific science communication format of the consensus conference, propagated by the Danish Board of Technology. The chapter explores how divergent expectations about the outcome of specific consensus conferences can be elucidated with the help of the three models. Depending on which model the organizers and participants subscribe to, the objective of the conference can be to enhance scientific literacy, democratic legitimation or the mediation of individual preferences. If participants do not share the same expectations about the outcome, there will be ample scope for disappointment and frustration.


Communication models consensus conferences controversies democracy expertise negotiation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, Politics and PhilosophyCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksberg CDenmark

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