Mazur’s Hypothesis on Technology Controversy and Media


Gutteling, Jan M. (2005) Mazur’s Hypothesis on Technology Controversy and Media. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 17 (1). pp. 23-41. ISSN 0954-2892

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Abstract:In the early 1980s, Allan Mazur published his hypothesis on the direct relation between media coverage and public reaction toward technological issues. This hypothesis stated, ‘the rise in reaction against a scientific technology appears to coincide with a rise in quantity of media coverage, suggesting that media attention tends to elicit a conservative public bias.’ Mazur analyzed similarities between media coverage of a risk issue and the public reaction only indirectly, for example by looking at the size of demonstrations against a certain technology in a given year, or the number of threatening letters, and the coincidence with the amount of mass media coverage. Since then, no additional empirical data on this hypothesis has been published, although many authors, working on issues relating to technology and media coverage, have referred to Mazur’s work, right up to the present time. Using material that was collected as part of an international research project on modern biotechnology in the public sphere, this article tests Mazur’s hypothesis empirically by using media content and public reactions in a single research design. Results indicate that Mazur’s hypothesis is not supported by the data. Consequences of the findings and the limitations of the research design are discussed.
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Copyright:© 2005 World Association for Public Opinion Research
Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS)
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