in Science for All

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226068633
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226068664 | DOI:

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Historians have shown how the development of science in Victorian Britain was shaped by the interaction between working scientists and the general public, yet we know surprisingly little about the situation after 1900. This book addresses important issues about how the relationship between scientists and the public has changed between the Victorian period and the present. In this introductory chapter, the origin of the belief that scientists deliberately turned their backs on non-specialist writing as the scientific community became more professionalized is examined. The chapter argues that, although there were specific circumstances in which popular writing could damage a scientist's professional standing, these were not such as to forbid a limited participation in projects that were seen to have educational merit or publicity value for science as a whole. This leads to another level of analysis that addresses the question of what counts as “popular” science. Answers to that question will emerge from a survey of the different kinds of popular science publishing and an inquiry into the nature and purposes of popularization aimed at the various readerships.

Keywords: Victorian period; scientists; popular science; public; popularization; popular writing; non-specialist writing; publishing; Britain

Chapter.  6505 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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