Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 496286
Title Understanding Public Responses to Emerging Technologies : A Narrative Approach
Author(s) Macnaghten, Philip; Davies, S.R.; Kearnes, Matthew
Source Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning (2015). - ISSN 1523-908X
Department(s) Knowledge Technology and Innovation
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2015

Previous studies aimed at understanding public responses to emerging technologies have given limited attention to the social and cultural processes through which public concerns emerge. When probed, these have tended to be explained either in cognitive social psychological terms, typically in the form of cognitive shortcuts or heuristics or the influence of affective variables, or in social interactionist terms, as a product of the micro dynamics of the social interaction. We argue for an alternative approach that examines how public attitudes are formed in relation to the interplay of wider cultural narratives about science and technology. Using data from recent qualitative research with publics on nanotechnology and other emerging technologies, we develop a typology of five cultural narratives that underpin and structure public talk. The narratives we identify within focus group talk are familiar stories that are deeply embedded in contemporary culture, and which provide cultural resources for navigating the issues posed by emerging technology. Substantively, they inform a ‘tragic’ mood on the prospects of emerging technology, reflecting the loss of belief in science, when coupled to neo-liberal logics, as guaranteeing social progress. The implications for policy-making are discussed.

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