Science, observation and entertainment: competing visions of postwar British natural history television, 1946-1967
Popular culture is not the endpoint for the communication of fully developed scientific discourses; rather it constitutes a set of narratives, values and practices with which scientists have to engage in the heterogeneous processes of scientific work. In this paper I explore how one group of actors, involved in the development of both postwar natural history television and the professionalization of animal behaviour studies, manage this process. I draw inspiration from sociologists and historians of science, examining the boundary work involved in the definition and legitimation of scientific fields. Specifically, I chart the institution of animal ethology and natural history film-making in Britain through developing a relational account of the co-construction of this new science and its public form within the media. Substantively, the paper discusses the relationship between three genres of early natural history television, tracing their different associations with forms of public science, the spaces of the scientific field and the role of the camera as a tool of scientific observation. Through this analysis I account for the patterns of cooperation and divergence in the broadcasting and scientific visions of nature embedded in the first formations of the Natural History Unit of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Copyright © 2000 SAGE Publications. Author's draft version; post-print. Final version published by Sage available on Sage Journals Online http://online.sagepub.com/
Cultural Geographies, 2000, Vol. 7, Issue 4 pp. 432 - 460