Public understanding of science in Pacific Northwest salmon recovery policy

Dave White, Troy E. Hall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    In the arena of salmon recovery policy, stakeholders often propose that science should guide policy, frame their positions in scientific terms, and construct scientific arguments to support their positions. However, there are also appeals to involve citizens more thoroughly in policymaking. An important step in bringing science and citizens together is to investigate how citizens understand the processes, actors, institutions, and knowledge of science. Discourse analysis of the testimony of 51 nonscientist stakeholders to Congressional committees between 1998 and 2000 revealed that 14 used discourses of science. These understandings related to scientific process, scientific knowledge, and scientists as policy actors. Individual citizens employed multiple culturally available discourses based on a traditional, authoritative understanding of science to support their own positions, while others' views were invalidated based on a skeptical-realist understanding. Findings provide mixed comfort for policymakers and resource managers.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)305-320
    Number of pages16
    JournalSociety and Natural Resources
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Apr 2006


    • Environmental policy
    • Public involvement
    • Science and policy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Development
    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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