Science and Communication) Seminar Research Task


Please try and get the hard copies of the papers, not just the online version, as we will be discussing the articles in the context of the whole paper, and often you lose imagery in the online versions.


Topic summary

This weekas class looks at scientific information given to consumers, for example on food and medicine packaging and in advertisements, and considers the relationship between consumer behaviour, government policy and market forces.

Required reading

Required reading for this class:

Go to the Consumers Assocation Website: uk, and type in Food Labelling into the search box. Have a read of some of the press releases, reports etc on their challenges to some food labelling claims.

A few good short pieces on science in Advertising:

Article by Phillip Strange

Article in The Guardian

Article in The Telegraph

Further reading:

Rachel Dodds, Efrat Tseelon and Emma Weitkamp (2008), Making sense of scientific claims in advertising. Public Understanding of Science, 17, 211-230.

Nelkin, D (1987), Selling Science: How the press covers science and technology (W.H., Freeman Press) (UCL Library)

A nice paper looking at health claims in food packaging by P. G Williams, (2005), Consumer understanding and use of health claims for foods

Have a look through the Food Standards Agencys Web Pages on Food Labelling.

The Governments information pages on the Traffic Light Scheme.

Gill Cowburn and Lynn Stockley, Consumer understanding and use of nutrition labelling: a

systematic review, Public Health Nutrition (2005), 8: 21-28 (available online in UCL)

Seminar Research Task

This weekas tutorial is about the ways in which consumer good are labelled, and how those labels are used by consumers and the ways in which science is used in advertising.

Your assignment is to:

1) collect one example of scientific information from food or other consumer goods packaging and to reflect on what information is given, what it means to you, and how you might use it.

2) collect any advertisements (online, in magazines, newspapers) that use or feature science or scientists in any way. Think about what this is trying to achieve and how.


Topic Summary

This class will look at the way that many single-issue groups and campaign organisations make use of science in their activities and publicity material. In doing this, they play a role in mediating science to wider publics. They may also influence the direction and implementation of scientific research.

This class will discuss the various activities of such pressure groups and their outcomes. In particular, it will focus on cases where the scientific a?messagea? delivered diverges from the a?official linea?.

Required Reading

Required reading for this class is: Science in Public; chapter 9.

Further reading:

Jon Cracknellas essay a?Issue arenas, pressure groups and environmental agendasa which is Chapter 1 of The Mass Media and Environmental Issues, edited by Anders Hansen. (UCL Library)

Also, on the web, explore the recent clash between Greenpeace and the Government over the nuclear power consultations.

Advanced reading:

Andrew Jamison, a?The making of green knowledge: the contribution from activisma, Futures 35 (2003) pp. 703a 716.

Epstein, S (1995) The Construction of Lay Expertise: AIDS Activism and the Forging of Credibility in the Reform of Clinical Trials, Science, Technology and Human Values, 20: 4.

Seminar Research Task

For this weekas tutorial you will research some recent activism by a group using scientific claims. You could look for environmental