HOW DO PEOPLE PERCEIVE SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION? A STUDY OF THE COMMUNICATION OF SCIENCE USING THE LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT IN THE CHARLESTON AREA
Eichorn, Margaret Elaine
MetadataShow full item record
Science studies has revealed that science is a social process comprised of a variety of actors. Scientists, the public, and the media are responsible for the current state of the communication of science, and they are therefore all held accountable for the interpretations and the misinterpretation of scientific information. The local food movement is one case in which the communication of scientific information has the potential to motivate consumer behavior. The science behind food is comprised of research from the disciplines of biology, chemistry, nutrition, physiology, biotechnology and engineering; however, it is not these food scientists who are deploying this research into the public realm. Rather, media sources are responsible for driving the public discourse of food. If the media adequately communicates information to help people fully grasp the processes involved in producing local food, it may alter both their behaviors. Using the qualitative methods of participant observation, discourse analysis, and focus groups, along with descriptive statistics of focus group participants, this project aimed to assess the efficacy of the communication of science using the local food movement. This project revealed how different social groups perceive information about food production and assessed which communication methods are most effective throughout social groups in Charleston. Different discourses, such as "hindrances," "community concern," "convenience," and "skepticism" emerged from members of these groups. However, members of all social groups within my study agreed that media sources with images, such as documentaries, are most effective in inciting behavioral changes. These results offer suggestions for how local food leaders in Charleston area should best advertize local food sources to motivate consumers in the area to participate in the local food movement.