A social scientist’s view of science adoption and uptake


Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


I argue that the science of 'adoption and uptake' is a limited framing of the problem that is better understood as 'science into action'. I suggest that Kurt Lewin's original action research framework offers a useful paradigm for conceptualising and informing how to translate science into action. This framework urges scientists (and others) to understand more fully the social system in which behaviours such as 'adoption' and 'uptake' (and more usually, 'non-adoption' and 'non-uptake') occur, with a focus on the interdependence of actors within a psychological environment that is normally in a state of quasi-stationary equilibrium but also characterised by internal and external tensions. System change requires 'unfreezing', or the destabilisation of quasi-stationary equilibrium, before movement and subsequent refreezing. This suggests that we scientists would gain better insight into the failure of science to translate into sustained, durable action, if we consider the issue from the point of view of a citizen or policy-maker, for whom science is just one of many sources of influence on decision-making and behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalJournal fuer Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


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