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Keeping the public informed ? public negotiation of air quality information.

Bush, J. and Moffatt, S. and Dunn, C. E. (2001) 'Keeping the public informed ? public negotiation of air quality information.', Public understanding of science., 10 (2). pp. 213-229.


Air quality information has been made available to the public in the UK since 1990. However, relatively little work has been done to explore the impact of this information and the ways in which it is interpreted and evaluated by members of the public. In this paper, we describe a social constructionist approach to exploring public views on air quality information based on a case study in Teesside and Sunderland in northeast England. Our research findings, based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 41 people, suggest that the public doesn't "assimilate" air quality information in a passive way, but actively negotiates and critically evaluates such information on the basis of a range of cultural resources, including experiential and local knowledges. Validity, reliability, and trustworthiness of air quality information is scrutinized by members of the public at three main levels: (1) air quality monitoring, (2) the authorities that collect and provide air quality information, and (3) the parameters used to present this information to the public. We consider the implications of these findings for debates on the public negotiation of scientific information and for policies relating to the provision of air quality information. On the basis of our findings, we make some preliminary suggestions regarding ways of developing air quality information services that are more responsive to the needs of the public.

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Record Created:14 Oct 2008
Last Modified:29 Jan 2010 14:14

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