864   Visual presentation

Theme parks as science communication spaces: the EPCOT case

Author: Daniela Martin
ITESO, Mexico

Science and technology have become tools to legitimize messages on a desired future that affect the world in terms of society, politics and economy; and cultural institutions have played a great role in this practice. By their nature, these spaces employ persuasion and entertainment strategies in their narratives to attract and arouse public interest. In this sense, scientific-technological theme parks have been propitious places for the communication of science and technology through modernity.

This paper presents the results of a study that analyzed the symbolic construction of the future in the scientific-technological discourse of four attractions at EPCOT theme park in Orlando, Florida. The discourses were analyzed based on the theoretical and methodological approach by John B. Thompson, which involves three phases that are not subsequent but intertwined with each other. The first phase involved a sociohistorical analysis of the production conditions of company, the theme park and each of the attractions. In the second phase, each transcript was systematized and analyzed to respond to the conventional, structural and referential aspect of the symbolic production of the future. This analysis, combined with the sociohistorical analysis, provided enough information to proceed with the third phase: the analysis of the intentional aspect or interpretation/reinterpretation.

EPCOT has become a landscape in which corporate visions converge with the political and historical reality of the US and the world. It presents a narrative in which progress is presented as one without disruption, uncertainty or complexity, in order to secure a privileged and exclusively positive symbolic position in the collective imagination regarding the role of science and technology in the world. This theme park is therefore a device providing education and training to consumption by introducing a sample of how social life is transformed through the consumption of the technology that is showcased.

Co-author: Daniela Martin

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