Cultural Distance Between Science and Society: Empirical Evidence of Past Thirty years



Scholars have argued that science communication, like any other form of communication, is a socio-cultural process and should be considered as an interaction of two cultures. The thought structure of individual citizens, and thereby collectives, is shaped through socio-cultural processes (Raza, 2014). As scientific information, laws and theories generated in a far-removed scientific culture percolate and some of the ideas assimilate within the thought complex of the public fast, while others take longer time to get absorbed. This process is a complex function of factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic to the scientific information (Zhu X, 2017). In this article we present the shift in ‘relative cultural distance’ based on the analysis of data collected during Kumbh-1989, Ardh-kumbh-1995, Kumbh-2001, Ardh-Kumbh-2007, Kumbh-2013 and Ardh-kumbh-2019 at Allahabad over a period of thirty years. The present analysis has been conducted on five issues related to astronomy and cosmology section of the larger survey study, containing questions related to four areas of scientific knowledge, taking socialisation through education as the proxy-scale for cultural distance. It has been observed that there is a noticeable shift in the cultural distance between science and public. The mean cultural distance of astronomy and cosmology has progressively reduced in India.


Public understanding; Scientific literacy; Shift; Cultural distance; Kumbh Mela

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