IAMCR 2010

Entre os dias 18 e 22 de Julho de 2010 haverá o Congresso do IAMCR na Universidade do Minho, em Braga. O tema do congresso é “Comunicação e Cidadania – Repensar a Crise e a Mudança”. No evento vou apresentar dois trabalhos. Abaixo, os títulos e os abstracts de ambos.

Between scientists and public: reframing public participation in science through bioethics

Abstract: Discourses and techniques about the relationship between science and the public have remarkably developed in the past four decades. Science communication has become an important issue for the scientific governance. Public confidence in science, decision-making and support to democracy have changed the predominance of a top-down communication model, from scientists to public, to a more participative one – the Public Engagement with Science (PES). The Institute of Bioethics at Portuguese Catholic University, in Oporto, is doing research in the role of science in society issues and the aim of this paper is to discuss the relevance of Bioethics to improve PES. The bioethical issues seem to draw people’s attention to certain scientific facts, confronting them with the consequences of science and improving their skills in deliberating on scientific issues. Moreover, ethics influences the way one understands public engagement, ‘scientific citizenship’ or ‘science governance’. The role of ethics is not to re-edit the old fashionable deficit perspective which usually focuses on the impact of science and technology from the perspective of non-experts. Ethics is a theoretical and practical reference for changing the science-making in the near future, and it makes us consider the public as playing a more important role than that of mere spectators with lack of scientific knowledge or with emotional concerns. The ethical reflection could redefine the non-experts place in the context of science, involving people with science, making them not simply aware of scientific issues but also involved in the process of decision-making. On the other hand, bioethics can also contribute to the participation of scientists in the ethical reflection that takes place outside the labs, broadening their role as citizen scientists.

Obesity and poverty in the media: a case study from a Brazilian newspaper

In the last decades obesity has become one of the main concerns in public health. According to WHO by 2015 there will be 700 million obese adults. This scenario reflects on news-making, particularly the way the media continuously stresses the problem of obesity, considered a serious illness, even a world epidemic. Furthermore, this issue leads to the socioeconomic apparatuses or dispositifs of risk control. These dispositifs are expressed by individual practices of self control towards a larger emphasis on minimum intervention of State. In Brazil, the statistics show that overweight and obesity have also grown significantly. Moreover, poverty, a social problem earlier linked to hunger and underweight, is now one of the faces of obesity in that country, a scenario not so different of rich countries. The relationship between obesity and poverty is related to a kind of scarcity of some nutritional components, access and knowledge of what is healthy or unhealthy. Also, there is a scarcity of options in the circumstances that making choices is considered an essential condition for controlling obesity. The purpose of this paper is to present some conclusions of my doctoral thesis aimed at researching the role of power dynamics in constructing the relationship between obesity and poverty as legitimate discourse by the media, even as a legitimate problem more important than fighting hunger in Brazil. The study was made through the analysis of 65 news items concerning the relationship about obesity and poverty and published in the biggest Brazilian newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, from 1996 to 2005. It was significant that among these 65 news items, 48 – i.e. more than one third – were published between 2003 and 2005.

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