Congratulations to graduate student Michael Evans who has two papers he has written forthcoming in the Sociological Forum as well as Science Communication.
The first paper, “Who Wants a Deliberative Public Sphere?” is forthcoming in Sociological Forum. Democratic theorists and social scientists suggest that a deliberative public sphere would be good for democracy. But do ordinary Americans actually want a deliberative public sphere? Through a multidimensional evaluation exercise in individual interviews, Michael find that evaluation of public representatives tends to favor open-mindedness and ongoing debate. Further, respondents explicitly discount elected representatives who participate in public debate precisely because they are seen as violating deliberative norms through their affiliation with electoral politics. Respondents want a deliberative public sphere. But this desire reflects an understanding of the public sphere and institutional politics as disconnected arenas with incompatible rules and objectives, raising multiple questions for democratic theory and for political sociology.
The second paper, “Supporting Science: Reasons, Restrictions, and the Role of Religion,” is forthcoming in Science Communication. Religion sometimes appears to motivate objections to science and technology. But how and when does religion matter? Michael examines this question from a novel perspective. Given the opportunity to limit scientific research, and having good reasons to do so, are religious persons likely to support such limits? In individual interviews, Michael finds that the answer is generally “no.” Religious and nonreligious respondents alike deploy multiple reinforcing arguments for supporting science in order to resist any proposed limits. With rare exceptions, religious and nonreligious persons concur in their unwavering support for ongoing scientific research.