Nanotechnology and the Public : Risk Perception and Risk Communication book cover
1st Edition

Nanotechnology and the Public
Risk Perception and Risk Communication

ISBN 9781439826836
Published September 12, 2011 by CRC Press
202 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

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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.