chapter  3
16 Pages

Attitudes toward Science in France: 1972–2005

WithDANIEL BOY

In 1972, offi cials at the French Délégation Générale à la Recherche Scientifi que et Technique commissioned a study from the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques on public attitudes toward scientifi c research in France. This request was made as a result of certain concerns prevalent among those who managed public research. They were anxious to avoid public protest against directions taken by investment in scientifi c research, which was beginning to be criticized elsewhere and particularly in the United States. In 1971, the OECD commissioned a report from Dean Harvey Brooks of Harvard University on changing science policies. The report criticized directions taken by scientifi c and technological development, and, in particular, it underscored a rising trend in opinion that still holds true today: “There is today a certain emotional reaction against science and technology and some serious criticism of them. It is realized that the immense social benefi ts that have fl owed from science and technology are sometimes accompanied by social drawbacks. Thus, policies concerned with science and technology in the next decade will have to take into account, much more explicitly than in the past, the benefi ts and disadvantages, real and potential, that may result from the application of science or the deployment of technology.” The study on French attitudes toward research was entrusted to a research team at the Centre d’Etude de la Vie Politique Française (CEVIPOF) and the fi eld survey was conducted by the SOFRES survey organization in 1972.