Transition from Idealized Science to Culture of Skepticism in South Korea: Micro-Level Evidence for the Two-Culture Model of Public Understanding of Science

Sei Hill Kim, Sang Hwa Oh, Ali Zain, Yujin Heo, Jungmi Jun

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Using data from a national survey in South Korea, this study offers micro-level evidence for the two-culture model of public understanding of science, which posits that a shift from an industrializing to a post-industrial society is accompanied by a transition from a culture of idealized science to a culture of skepticism. We investigate whether older South Koreans, who spent much of their lives during the intense industrialization of the country, hold more positive perceptions about science than younger generations, who grew up mostly in a post-industrial era. As predicted, older individuals perceived greater contributions of science, suggesting that they held more idealized perceptions of science than younger individuals. Perceived importance of economic development, scientific knowledge, ideology, uncertainty of scientific risks, and formal education mediated the link between age and perceived contributions of science, suggesting that these mediators may function as causal mechanisms that could explain why citizens in post-industrial societies tend to have more skeptical perceptions about science than those in industrializing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberedad026
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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