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Industrial constructions of publics and public knowledge: a qualitative investigation of practice in the UK chemicals industry


Burningham, Kate; Barnett, Julie; Carr, Anna; Clift, Roland; Wehrmeyer, Walter


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Abstract While the rhetoric of public engagement is increasingly commonplace within industry, there has been little research that examines how lay knowledge is conceptualized and whether it is really used within companies. Using the chemicals sector as an example, this paper explores how companies conceive of publics and “public knowledge,” and how this relates to modes of engagement/communication with them. Drawing on qualitative empirical research in four companies, we demonstrate that the public for industry are primarily conceived as “consumers” and “neighbours,” having concerns that should be allayed rather than as groups with knowledge meriting engagement. We conclude by highlighting the dissonance between current advocacy of engagement and the discourses and practices prevalent within industry, and highlight the need for more realistic strategies for industry/public engagement.
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2007
Seitenangabe S. 23-43
Zeitschriftentitel Public Understanding of Science, 16 (2007) 1
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963662506071285
Status Postprint; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)