Science in society: re-evaluating the deficit model of public understanding

Sturgis, Patrick and Allum, Nick (2004) Science in society: re-evaluating the deficit model of public understanding. Public Understanding of Science, 13, (1), 55-75. (doi:10.1177/0963662504042690).


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The “deficit model” of public attitudes towards science has led to controversy over the role of scientific knowledge in explaining lay people’s attitudes towards science. In this paper we challenge the de facto orthodoxy that has connected the deficit model and contextualist perspectives with quantitative and qualitative research methods respectively. We simultaneously test hypotheses from both theoretical approaches using quantitative methodology. The results point to the clear importance of knowledge as a determinant of attitudes toward science. However, in contrast to the rather simplistic deficit model that has traditionally characterized discussions of this relationship, this analysis highlights the complex and interacting nature of the knowledge— attitude interface.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/0963662504042690
ISSNs: 0963-6625 (print)
1361-6609 (electronic)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Social Statistics
ePrint ID: 80190
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2004Published
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:16

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