Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere

  title={Politicization of Science in the Public Sphere},
  author={Gordon Gauchat},
  journal={American Sociological Review},
  pages={167 - 187}
  • G. Gauchat
  • Published 29 March 2012
  • Political Science
  • American Sociological Review
This study explores time trends in public trust in science in the United States from 1974 to 2010. More precisely, I test Mooney’s (2005) claim that conservatives in the United States have become increasingly distrustful of science. Using data from the 1974 to 2010 General Social Survey, I examine group differences in trust in science and group-specific change in these attitudes over time. Results show that group differences in trust in science are largely stable over the period, except for… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Cultural Authority in Comparative Context: A Multilevel Analysis of Trust in Science and Religion
Science and religion are among the most influential forces for organizing social life around the world, yet we know little about how national context shapes perceptions of them. Using data from the
The Political Context of Science in the United States: Public Acceptance of Evidence-Based Policy and Science Funding
In recent years, professional science organizations in the United States, including the National Research Council, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation, have expressed
The influence of political ideology on trust in science
In recent years, some scholars, journalists, and science advocates have promoted broad claims that ‘conservatives distrust science’ or ‘conservatives oppose science’. We argue that such claims may
Love the Science, Hate the Scientists: Conservative Identity Protects Belief in Science and Undermines Trust in Scientists
The decline in trust in the scientific community in the United States among political conservatives has been well established. But this observation is complicated by remarkably positive and stable
Predictors of trust in the general science and climate science research of US federal agencies
It is found that federal agencies’ general science research is more trusted than their climate science research—although a large minority of respondents did not have an opinion—and that political ideology has a strong influence on public trust in federal scientific research.
Elite Cues and the Rapid Decline in Trust in Science Agencies on COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has been marked by political divisions in U.S. public trust of scientists. Such divisions are well known on other topics, but regarding COVID-19 they arose suddenly, with
Democracy and Mass Skepticism of Science
Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, democracy and science have been seen as two aspects of modernity that mutually reinforce each other. This article highlights a tension between the two by arguing
Partisan polarization and resistance to elite messages: Results from survey experiments on social distancing
COVID-19 compelled government officials in the U.S. and elsewhere to institute social distancing policies, shuttering much of the economy. At a time of low trust and high polarization, Americans may
A Partisan and Polarized Issue in the United States
Climate change has become a politically polarized issue within the past 30 years, as interest groups and certain political leaders sought to dispute the growing scientific consensus about its causes
Political Orientation and Belief in Science in a U.S. College Sample
Interventions to increase individuals’ acceptance of facts may benefit from stimulating greater support for truth-seeking values and behavior, with individual differences in political ideology as a potential mediating variable.


The cultural authority of science: Public trust and acceptance of organized science
  • G. Gauchat
  • Sociology, Medicine
    Public understanding of science
  • 2011
The findings in this study indicate that the knowledge–attitudes, alienation, and cultural meanings models are all valuable for understanding the cultural authority of science, however, the strength of these explanations depends on the type of attitude analyzed.
Gender differences in scientific knowledge and attitudes toward science: a comparative study of four Anglo-American nations
Despite a lack of empirical verification, research analysts and populist commentators have long assumed that a key factor in explaining anti-scientific attitudes among women is their greater
Social Trust and Attitudes Toward Democracy
In spite of the great importance attached by social capital theory to the role of social trust in maintaining stable and effective democracy, research has produced rather weak and mixed support for
Public Knowledge of and Attitudes to Science: Alternative Measures That May End the “Science War”
Research on the public understanding of science has measured knowledge as acquaintance with scientific facts and methods and attitudes as evaluations of societal consequences of science and
Public Understanding of, and Attitudes toward, Scientific Research: What We Know and What We Need to Know
Over the last four decades, a substantial body of national survey material has been collected in the US concerning the public understanding of science and technology. Using this body of research,
Science knowledge and attitudes across cultures: a meta-analysis
The correlation between knowledge and attitudes has been the source of controversy in research on the public understanding of science (PUS). Although many studies, both quantitative and qualitative,
Science in Society: Re-Evaluating the Deficit Model of Public Attitudes
The “deficit model” of public attitudes towards science has led to controversy over the role of scientific knowledge in explaining lay people’s attitudes towards science. In this paper we challenge
Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches
The idea of America as politically polarized—that there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue states—has become a cliche. What commentators miss, however, is that increasing
Introduction: STS and Neoliberal Science
In this special issue, we focus on the particular impacts of neoliberalism as a regime of scientific management. Drawing on a wide range of studies from other fields, as well as the four cases in
The Contemporary American Conservative Movement
The American conservative movement that began to gain steam in the post–World War II era had, by the 1980s, emerged as a transformative political force in the United States and the world. Yet