Society in Biotechnological Research Practices

By Eloisa Cianci.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Which social aspects shape the process of biotechnological research? How do researchers of a biotechnological company perceive society? How have these social representations shaped their relations with the public? This paper present the principal results of an ethnographic explorative research carried out in laboratories of a drug discovery company in 2006/2007. The aim of the research was to gain a deeper understanding of the process of biotechnological knowledge construction and of factors that can have influence on it. 724 primary documents were collected through interviews, non participant observations of laboratory work and group meetings, and the collection of images, pictures, photos, papers, articles and power point presentations. The material was subjected to classical content analysis technique and the outcomes analysed with Atlas-Ti, a computer assisted analysis software. The presentation will focus on three thematic areas that emerge from the research results. They point out specific and interconnected representations related to the company (its mission, its scientific community and its scientific and economic responsibility); to the peculiar identity that the researcher need to develop to work in a company (vs. in the academy); to the public. On the whole, an ambivalent representation of the role that society plays in the process of biotechnological knowledge construction emerges. On the one hand society is considered the bearer of a demand and the researcher answers to it offering a particular product of scientific knowledge, the drug, on the other hand the public is represented by researchers using a deficit model: unskilled and passive in the relation with science.

Keywords: Biotechnological Research, Representation of Society in Science, Relation Between Scientists and the Public

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.165-176. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 866.681KB).

Dr. Eloisa Cianci

Post Doc, Faculty of Educational Studies, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy

Eloisa Cianci, graduated in Educational Science, is a Ph.D. in Antropology and Epistemology of Complexity with a thesis titled: “The Scientific Though Processes of Biotechnological Knowledge Construction in the Science and Society System.” Currently she is a Post Doc at University of Bergamo. Her current research interests embrance the relation between science and society and in particular the processes of biotecnological knowledge construction, representations of society in science and epistemology of science communication.