25 Years of Public Understanding of Science in India: Analysis based on cultural distance

Raza, Gauhar ; Singh, Surjit

Abstract

About 30 years ago the idea of cultural distance between peoples structure of thought and the science was proposed. Over the years it crystallised. This article presents major findings of the surveys that
were conducted in India, spanned over twenty-five years. It is argued that cultural distance varies depending upon the nature of scientific information. Mapping cultural distances of specific scientific
information for distinct target groups could help planners and communicators of science in devising effectual intervention strategies. Plans for dissemination of information that has low magnitude of cultural distance, need to be radically different in nature vis a vis approaches required for popularising scientific ideas that tend to cluster at the farthest end of the scale. In developing countries, the formal system of modern education operates as a strong determinant in shaping the cultural structure of thought prevalent among the citizens. It influences the worldview of even those who have never received any formal schooling and are categorised as ‘illiterate’.

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