Afterword: Science popularization, dictatorships, and democracies

Geert Somsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This Afterword to the special section on Science Popularization in Francoist Spain draws general conclusions from its case studies. Most overarchingly, the different contributions show that popularization existed under this dictatorial regime, and hence does not require a Habermasian liberal-democratic public sphere. Four more specific lessons are also drawn, each shedding new light on either science popularization or dictatorial regimes. (1) Popularization has not only been a way to promote science, it has also been used to prop up dictatorial regimes by associating them with things scientific. (2) Totalitarian regimes are much less monolithic than they appear to be at the surface; they often harbor internal weaknesses and conflicts. (3) The study of science popularization in dictatorships can help open our eyes for comparable forms of propaganda in democracies. (4) Totalitarianism is best understood not as a universal phenomenon, but in its specific historical situatedness. Studying science popularization under Franco brings out the specific traits of this regime: the legacy of the Civil War, Spanish regionalism, and the international dependencies of the Francoist state.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00732753211073422
Pages (from-to)430-435
Number of pages6
JournalHistory of Science
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Francoist Spain
  • Science popularization
  • dictatorship
  • science and ideology
  • totalitarianism

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