The term ‘public understanding of science’ (PUS) has a dual meaning. First, it covers a wide ﬁeld of activities that aim at bringing science closer to the people and promoting PUS in the tradition of a public rhetoric of science (see Fuller 2001 for the idea; OECD 1997; Miller et al. 2002 for attempted inventories of such initiatives). Second, it refers to social research that investigates, using empirical methods, what the public’s understanding of science might be and how this might vary across time and context. This includes the conceptual analysis of the term understanding’. This chapter concentrates on the latter, and focuses on the discussions raised by research using large-scale nationally and internationally representative sample surveys that ask people lists of prepared standard questions from a questionnaire. I review the changing research agenda by typifying three ‘paradigms’ of PUS research according to the questions they raised, the interventions they supported and the criticisms they attracted. The chapter ends with a short outlook on the potential for future research and a brief afterthought on the ‘public deﬁcit concept’ and survey-based investigations. This review expands on previous reviews of the ﬁeld (Pion and Lipsey 1981; Wynne 1995; Miller 2004)
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