NGOs, the Science-Lay Dichotomy, and Hybrid Spaces of Environmental Knowledge

  • Sally EdenEmail author
Part of the Knowledge and Space book series (KNAS, volume 3)


In debates about science and the environment, the “science-lay dichotomy is both highly tenuous and highly tenacious” (Irwin & Michael, 2003, p. 124). It is tenacious because, despite continual criticism from social scientists, it continues to underpin the “cognitive-deficit model” of the public understanding of science. The deficit model rests on the assumption that the lay public is unscientific, unspecialized, and often ignorant (or at least poorly informed) about the details of scientific and technological developments and are therefore normally excluded from decisions about how science and the environment is managed. It is consequently also assumed in the model that this exclusion and lack of knowledge breed public distrust in scientific developments and their regulation and, therefore, that this distrust must be corrected by providing more information and improving public education about these matters.


Genetically Modify Wind Farm Indigenous Knowledge Boundary Organization Forest Stewardship Council 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper comes from work funded by the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council through its Science in Society Programme, awards L144250047 and RES-151-25-00035. I am grateful to all the interviewees for their time and to Andrew Donaldson, Christopher Bear, and Gordon Walker for their input to these projects over the years.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of HullHullUK

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