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Evolutionary psychology as public science and boundary work

[journal article]

Cassidy, Angela

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Abstract This paper explores the phenomena of public scientific debates, where scientific controversies are argued out in public fora such as the mass media, using the case of popular evolutionary psychology in the UK of the 1990s. An earlier quantitative analysis of the UK press coverage of the subject (Cassidy, 2005) suggested that academics associated with evolutionary psychology had been unusually active in the media at that time, particularly in association with the publication of popular science books on the subject. Previous research by Turner, by Gieryn, and by Bucchi has established the relationship between such appeals to the public domain and the establishment of scientific legitimacy and academic disciplinary boundaries. Following this work, I argue here that popular science has, in this case, provided a creative space for scientists, outside of the constraints of ordinary academic discourse, allowing them to reach across scientific boundaries in order to claim expertise in the study of human beings.
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 175-205
Journal Public Understanding of Science, 15 (2006) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)