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EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL FIRST CONTACT REPORT PRESENTED BY LILI MAGDA FARKAS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MEDIA, CULTURE AND SOCIETY

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EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL FIRST CONTACT REPORT PRESENTED BY LILI MAGDA FARKAS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MEDIA, CULTURE AND SOCIETY
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    ‘ T HE T RUTH IS IN U S ’ :   T HE S OCIAL C ONSTRUCTION OF E XTRA -T ERRESTRIAL F IRST C ONTACT   R EPORT PRESENTED BY   L ILI M AGDA F ARKAS   F OR THE D EGREE OF B ACHELOR OF S CIENCE   IN   M EDIA ,   C ULTURE AND S OCIETY   D EPARTMENT OF S OCIOLOGY  U NIVERSITY OF S URREY   M AY ,   2019 W ORD COUNT :   11,877    2 A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS   First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Venetia Evergeti for her support and guidance throughout my final year! Her genuine interest in my topic motivated me to pursue my undying idea to unite sociology and astronomy in one project. And the biggest appreciation is for my coursemate, housemate and most importantly  best friend, Viv! Without each other’s support proba bly both of us would have lost our sanity by second year and wouldn’t have been able to finish university. All those all-nighters, overdoses on caffeine and late-night smokes will always be remembered! ° ° ° ‘ So long, and thanks for all the fish! ’    3 T ABLE OF C ONTENTS   A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS  ........................................................................................................................ 2 T ABLE OF C ONTENTS  ........................................................................................................................... 3 A BSTRACT  ............................................................................................................................................ 4  L IST OF A BBREVIATIONS  ..................................................................................................................... 5   C HAPTER 1.   I NTRODUCTION  .............................................................................................................. 6 C HAPTER 2.   L ITERATURE R EVIEW  ................................................................................................... 8 2.1.   F IRST C ONTACT AND A STROSOCIOLOGY  ................................................................................. 8 2.2.   S TUDYING R EALITIES :   T HE S OCIAL AND T HE M EDIATED  ..................................................... 11 2.3.   C ONCLUSION  .......................................................................................................................... 14 C HAPTER 3.   R ESEARCH D ESIGN ..................................................................................................... 15 3.1.   M ETHODOLOGY  ..................................................................................................................... 15 3.2.   D ATA COLLECTION  ................................................................................................................. 15 3.3.   D ATA ANALYSIS  ..................................................................................................................... 19 3.4.   E THICAL R EVIEW  ................................................................................................................... 20 3.5.   C RITICAL R EFLECTION  ........................................................................................................... 21 C HAPTER 4.   F INDINGS AND D ISCUSSION ........................................................................................ 23 4.1.   N ATURE OF C ONTACT  ............................................................................................................ 23 4.2.   R ESOURCES  ............................................................................................................................ 27 4.   3.   A PPROACH  /B EHAVIOUR  ........................................................................................................ 31 C HAPTER 5.   C ONCLUSION ............................................................................................................... 35 5.1.   R EVISITING THE R ESEARCH Q UESTIONS  ................................................................................ 35 5.2.   P UBLIC A TTITUDES  ................................................................................................................ 36 5.   3.   L IMITATIONS AND R ECOMMENDATIONS  ............................................................................... 36 5.4.   A FTERWORD  ........................................................................................................................... 37   R EFERENCES  ..................................................................................................................................... 38 A PPENDIX A.  ...................................................................................................................................... 42 A PPENDIX B.  ...................................................................................................................................... 44 A PPENDIX C.  ...................................................................................................................................... 45 A PPENDIX D.  ...................................................................................................................................... 48 A PPENDIX E.  ...................................................................................................................................... 50 A PPENDIX F.  ....................................................................................................................................... 51 A PPENDIX G.  ..................................................................................................................................... 54 A PPENDIX H.  ...................................................................................................................................... 57  4 A BSTRACT   The present explorative study investigates the ways in which the ambiguous reality of extra-terrestrial first contact is socially constructed. It is considered ambiguous, due to our lack of knowledge about life in the Universe, and the resulting lack of real-life experiences with extra-terrestrials. Consequently, the current study suggests that the reality of first contact is constructed only by symbolic and subjective resources of knowledge. In order to test this hypothesis, focus groups were conducted with young university students in the UK and thematically analysed with the purpose of identifying key themes which contribute to the construction of reality. Participant accounts revealed that the notion of first contact is indeed ambiguous in spite of its techno-scientific plausibility, due to the lack of objective knowledge. Scepticism and critical thinking were echoed in all accounts, regarding both the validity of a potential announcement of contact and its representations in contemporary resources of knowledge. Media was emphasised as a key resource about the topic, reinforcing the academically alleged importance of the science fiction genre in the construction of knowledge. However, this mediated construction was received with similar cynicism, revealing the increasing importance of scientific reasoning and rationality concerning the subject. Consequently, the study concludes that further investigation into the social construction of the extra-terrestrial first contact reality would be beneficial for the field of astrosociology in their exploration of public attitudes and anticipation of potential reactions.  5 L IST OF A BBREVIATIONS   E xtra- t errestrial ET S earch for E xtra- t errestrial I ntelligence/ L ife SETI  or SETL   C ultural A spects of the S earch for E xtra- t errestrial I ntelligence /L ife CASETI  or CASETL S cience F iction SF
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