PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


“Strange bedfellows and usual suspects"
Mapping the emergent complexity of 'social movement society' engagement with human genetic technologies.

Alexandra Plows   ESRC

Qualitative field data from year one of this three year project is used to map UK public modes of engagement, core discursive frames, in the context of human genetic technologies (genomics).
The ways “civil society” engages with genomics can be understood as the behaviour of a “social movement society” (Meyer and Tarrow 1998). Actor groups cannot be seen as completely “pro” or “anti” biotechnology; their responses are more sophisticated and context- dependant. Mobilisation is fragmented, shifting and complex; cross cutting frames emphasise the diffuseness of boundaries between actor groups (“ethno epistemic assemblage”- Irwin and Michael 2003) with implications for theories of social movements and “collective identity” (Melucci 1996).

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