The South African government expects a "radical democratisation" from the access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as political resources. A close look at the official discourse reveals that these technologies ought to foster a deliberative and participatory democracy (electronic democracy) on the one hand and a "delivery democracy" (electronic government) on the other. However, this public rhetoric is flawed by a lack of logical coherence and, therefore, can be read as a miscommunication. It is also problematic in its content. Indeed, ICTs cannot, by themselves, realize the ideal of the public sphere as conceptualised by Jürgen Habermas. Characterized by the reign of the prefix "cyber-e-tele", the South African discourse is embedded into a complex mix of myth, ideology and utopia. (Politikon - www.tandf.co.uk/journals/DÜI)
Scientific debates in modern societies often blur the lines between the science that is being debated and the political, moral, and legal implications that come with its societal applications. This manuscript traces the origins of this phenomenon to professional norms within the scientific discipline and to the nature and complexities of modern science and offers an expanded model of science communication that takes into account the political contexts in which science communication takes place. In a second step, it explores what we know from empirical work in political communication, public opinion research, and communication research about the dynamics that determine how issues are debated and attitudes are formed in political environments. Finally, it discusses how and why it will be increasingly important for science communicators to draw from these different literatures to ensure that the voice of the scientific community is heard in the broader societal debates surrounding science.