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Published: Kem. Ind. 60 (12) (2011) 595–602
Paper reference number: KUI-23/2011
Paper type: Professional paper
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Chemistry in the Popular Culture: Mass Media, Music and Outreach Events

B. Jergović


Science is often identified with the discipline of chemistry particularly in the popular sphere and in visual culture. The image of science or its profile is created mainly in the mass media, but also in other spheres and in many different ways. Mass media are in the focus of many research groups, as the most frequent and efficient source of scientific information to the public. Science communication research is rather intense also in the attempt to understand the non-linear interaction with popular music and film. In addition, public activities of scientific institutions are being investigated, as well as the public image of science in projects where scientists are directly communicating with the general, lay audience. Notwithstanding, a link between research and the practice of science communication is non-existent. Public communication of science is more emerging than planned, there are many isolated actors and programs, and ‘hard’ sciences are not keen on using the social sciences’ knowledge and skills. In order to improve this situation, it is essential to understand how the public image of science is created, and how science interacts with its audiences. Here, the public image of science is discussed with regard to the news values and the new circumstances for mass communication, particularly the convergence of different media, which offers new possibilities for science in the public. An analysis of the media coverage of chemistry in the International Chemistry Year 2011 shows huge differences in the frequency and nature of the media coverage, particularly with regard to media convergence and the use of different media simultaneously. Outreach events are discussed in the light of the influence on their visitors. Since science communication is present in other spheres of popular culture, and in nonlinear top-down manner, we shortly discuss communication about chemistry in pop music in the attempt to suggest the need to communicate chemistry and science at different levels and to broader audiences.

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chemistry, image, media convergence, outreach events, public