The boundaries between science and politics and the implications for practices in knowledge transfer
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Complex policy problems in today’s world require sound evidence for good decisions. Yet what constitutes sound evidence can often itself become a matter of political contention. Using original qualitative interview, focus group and document analysis, this thesis finds both that many Canadian organizations with a mandate for communicating scientific information (knowledge transfer) are working to bring together researchers and end-users into various forms of direct contact (known as interaction practices) and that different social groups have concerns with these interactions. Through using interaction practices to improve communication efforts by establishing end-user/researcher relationships, the socially constructed boundaries that exist between science and politics become blurred. When the science communicated has controversial political implications, this blurring becomes problematic, “polluting” the wider credibility of the science communicated. This thesis uses “boundary theory” to argue that organizations engaging in knowledge transfer must be aware of these risks, and in controversial political topics, work to span rather than blur these boundaries, in order to protect scientific credibility necessary to successfully communicate scientific information in politically controversial situations.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeGarcea, Joe; Bourassa, Maureen; Delbaere, Marjorie
Copyright DateDecember 2015