Atoms, Bytes and Genes
Public Resistance and Techno-Scientific Responses
Routledge – 2014 – 224 pages
Series: Routledge Advances in Sociology
"Atom," "byte" and "gene" are metonymies for techno-scientific developments of the 20th century: nuclear power, computing and genetic engineering. Resistance continues to challenge these developments in public opinion. This book traces historical debates over atoms, bytes and genes which raised controversy with consequences, and argues that public opinion is a factor of the development of modern techno-science. The level and scope of public controversy is an index of resistance, examined here with a "pain analogy" which shows that just as pain impacts movement, resistance impacts techno-scientific mobilization: it signals that something is wrong, and this requires attention, elaboration and a response to the challenge. This analysis shows how different fields of enquiry deal with the resistance of social-psychological mentalities in the face of industrial, scientific and political activities inspired by projected futures.
Part 1: Theoretical Foundations 1. Technology Movements: Framing and Objectification 2. Challenge and Response: The ‘Pain’ of the Technology Project 3. New Benchmarks: Consumerism, Environmentalism, Anti-Globalisation Part 2: Nuclear Power and Risk Perceptions 4. Nuclear Power: Military and Civil Uses 5. Risk, Public Opinion and Public Understanding of Science Part 3: Information Technology and Social Mobilization 6. Information Technology: From Mainframe to WorldWideWeb 7. Social Influence and Mobilization Part 4: Genetic Engineering and Institutional Learning 8. Genetic Engineering: Life Science, Biotechnology, Cloning and Genomics 9. Institutional Learning: State Regulation and Corporate Actors Part 5: Does History Repeat Itself? 10. Scenarios of Public Opinion over Nanotechnology
Martin W. Bauer is Professor of Social Psychology at London School of Economics and Political Sciences and the Editor of Public Understanding of Science.