1st Edition

Nanotechnology and the Public Risk Perception and Risk Communication

By Susanna Hornig Priest Copyright 2012
    202 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    202 Pages
    by CRC Press

    From nuclear power to gene therapy to the automobile, history shows that it is useful to encourage and facilitate public discussion about new technologies and their potential dangers. Part of the series Perspectives in Nanotechnology, Nanotechnology and the Public: Risk Perception and Risk Communication assesses results from focus groups, interviews, and other resources to provide a more nuanced understanding of how non-experts perceive nanotechnology and what they expect from it.

    Includes a series of special essays by social scientists and humanities scholars who have studied nanotechnology and society from different perspectives

    Assessing how "ordinary" people form opinions about new technologies and their adoption, this book addresses the role of media messages and pre-existing values in this process, as well as how risks can become either amplified or weakened along the way as a result of social mechanisms. Using solid theory and research to back presented concepts on risk perception and communication, the author discusses the potential for using informed consent, labels, and other types of consumer warnings that have proved to be effective in areas other than nano.

    An in-depth investigation into the concept of mass communication practices, this book explores the paradox of why, despite its appeal and promise, public engagement has had only limited success in the dialogue on nanotechnology. Aimed at finding solutions, the book’s resulting conclusions are considered in the context of broader issues. These include how society makes up its collective mind about technology adoption and all the profound questions this raises, in terms of democratic theory.

    Risk Communication in a Democratic Society

    Risk and Technology

    Technology and Society


    Introducing Nanotechnology to the Public

    Imagining the Nanoscale

    Emerging Public Perception

    Risk Communication for 21st-Century Democracies

    Risk Communication in Theory and Practice

    Risk Communication Challenges

    The Goals of Risk Communication

    Social Theories of Risk

    Public Opinion, Public Perception, and Public Understanding

    The GM Food Story Revisited

    Opinion Studies and Their Implications

    Implications for Risk Communication Research and Practice

    Nanotechnology and "Cultural Resonance"

    What Do People Want from Technology?

    Technological Literacy and Democracy

    The Challenges of Risk Society

    Nanotechnology, Risk, and Society

    Audiences, Stakeholders, Cultures, and Nanotechnology Risk

    The Role of Advocacy in Democracy

    Social, Cultural, and Psychological Influences

    Persuasion Research

    Disseminating Information about New Technologies

    Media’s Role in Risk Societies

    Media Effects Theory in the Internet Age

    Museums and Science Centers

    Lessons and Future Challenges


    Susanna Priest has been active in research concerning popular perspectives on emerging technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology since the 1980s. She is editor of Science Communication: Linking Theory and Practice, a leading journal in its field, author or editor of three books, and author or co-author of dozens of book chapters, journal articles, and reports about public responses to science and technology. Her work on nanotechnology public perception has been supported by several National Science Foundation grants. She is presently Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.