6220 Knowledge Mobilization as a Researchable Social Process

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 1:00 PM
Room 208-209 (VCC West Building)
Ralph Matthews , University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, BC, Canada

While the term ‘Knowledge Translation’ has been widely used in fields of health and education for the study of the application of ‘scientific’ knowledge to professional practice, the term ‘Knowledge Mobilization’ is becoming more widely used to examine the broader processes whereby knowledge moves out of the laboratory situation and navigates its way through regulatory processes and environmental assessment to become implemented and, in some cases, commercialized.  This set of reciprocal knowledge translations between the laboratory and civil society is a researchable social process. This paper will conceptualize and empirically examine the social processes involved in Knowledge Mobilization related to the (1) generation, (2) transmission and, (3) use of scientific knowledge. To do so, it will present an analytic framework linking the analysis of uncertainty, ignorance, risks, and benefits to the social  processes underlying how scientific knowledge is assessed beyond the laboratory.  Though grounded in our previous research on contested science related to aquaculture, this framework has been developed as a basis of our on-going study of Knowledge Mobilization processes involved in connection with two prion research laboratories focused on finding effective solutions to both prion-related spongiform diseases in animals and humans, and to prion-like neuro-degenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Our presentation will conclude with a description of the methodology of that study and the way in which its key concepts have been operationalized.  As such, it provides the basis for understanding not only “who’s listening” but also the social processes involved in the evaluation and application of “expert” scientific knowledge.

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