Mutations of scientific speech in the public sphere
he notion of the public sphere is particularly difficult to manage in the frame of information and communication sciences studies. Often uncritically used and under-defined in the different theoretical approaches, it nevertheless has an important place in political communication research. Moreover, it is a strong ideological tool, used differently according to the social actors’ strategies, whether these are aimed at domination or emancipation. At the same time, the public sphere is going through a transition period, moving from the domination of the mediated and rational public sphere to an area of generalised public relations. We can observe a number of sociological transformations that can be classified by reverting to four different axes: the typology of social actors, the modality of speaking, the technical forms of public communication and the identity frames represented. The public sphere looks like an experimental laboratory of society, oscillating between the participative model and the logic of the institutional actors that are losing legitimacy. The constitution of the modern public sphere since the 18 th century is closely linked with the scientific sphere. This specific social sphere is based on a hierarchical organisation, and grounded in expertise. So, information and communication sciences must ask two linked questions: 1) what kind of influence can the scientific research condition have on the representation of the democratic role of the public sphere? 2) What kind of influence can the potential crisis of representative democracy have on scientific research, on the different forms of public relations and on its legitimacy. The link between the strategies of the different social actors and science is complex: Its two models (‘popularisation’ and ‘participation’) are theoretically based on very different objectives. The aim of the diffusions model is to ‘induce’ knowledge, on the predicament that science develops citizenship and the democratic life. The participative model is focused on the objective of public deliberation in order to create an agreement, and to engender a political decision. In this way, we need to ask the following question: What are the strategic goals of the different social actors (e.g. states, enterprises, religious groups, civilian associations and organisations, citizens, etc.) to adopt one of these two models, often totally neglecting the other one.