WP216 Popularization in action: Small stories of scientific expertise

Armon & Georgakopoulou


This study examines news interviews with scientific experts for the stories they occasion so as to present their research to media audiences. Interactions between scientists and hosts are examined in a corpus of interviews with scientific experts broadcasted live on Israeli television with the ” small stories ” approach that looks at storytelling as talk-in-interaction that is tailored to participants’ agendas. Popularization is typically studied as a form of translation or diffusion of scientific knowledge adapted from academic sources for popular consumption. Popularization studies have examined how academic knowledge is disseminated and contextualized in different formats and genres and the role of professional or amateur mediators in making science public. While previous studies have looked into popularization narratives as packaged for popular consumption, this article looks at their occasioning in relation to the agendas of researchers and journalists. Experts are found to structure many accounts as tellings of ongoing events or hypothetical scenarios and reference their research, practices, or the entities they study. These stories are shown to support a positive presentation of the findings communicated while distancing the experts from exaggerated or future-oriented claims that their hosts are understood to be drawing.