Why we need a Public Understanding of Social Science

Jamie Lewis*, Andrew Bartlett, Hauke Riesch, Neil Stephens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Who is licensed to make knowledge claims about society? A more diffuse group of individuals are afforded the status of legitimate speakers on society in the public sphere than is the case when the questions relate to the expertise of the natural sciences. We draw on the concept of the ‘locus of legitimate interpretation’ and the sensibilities of Collins and Evans’ Studies of Expertise and Experience programme to help make sense of these issues. The social sciences are not the natural sciences, and one key difference is their relationship with publics. The social sciences are intrinsically entangled, at both the level of the research question and the research subject/object, with public knowledge, the knowledges of publics and public interests. We therefore outline what these differences might mean for a serious, distinct and purposive Public Understanding of Social Science programme and how this differs from current work in the Public Understanding of Science.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Early online date12 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jan 2023


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