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Analogies, metaphors, and wondering about the future: Lay sense-making around synthetic meat

Analogies, metaphors, and wondering about the future: Lay sense-making around synthetic meat
Analogies, metaphors, and wondering about the future: Lay sense-making around synthetic meat
Drawing on social representations theory, we explore how the public make sense of the unfamiliar, taking as the example a novel technology: synthetic meat. Data from an online deliberation study and eighteen focus groups in Belgium, Portugal and the UK indicated that the various strategies of sense-making afforded different levels of critical thinking about synthetic meat. Anchoring to genetic modification, metaphors like ‘Frankenfoods’ and commonplaces like ‘playing God’ closed off debates around potential applications of synthetic meat, whereas asking factual and rhetorical questions about it, weighing up pragmatically its risks and benefits, and envisaging changing current mentalities or behaviours in order to adapt to scientific developments enabled a consideration of synthetic meat’s possible implications for agriculture, environment, and society. We suggest that research on public understanding of technology should cultivate a climate of active thinking and should encourage questioning during the process of sense-making to try to reduce unhelpful anchoring
0963-6625
1-17
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Gaspar, Rui
961797d4-2de9-4a4c-9ecb-b501871f6eb6
Rutsaert, Pieter
42d30761-4def-493c-a794-29e12889e9f0
Seibt, Beate
77ff4397-28c2-424d-b0f4-fe363c39ae98
Fletcher, David
ea007684-9337-46eb-9c35-3a3d9bfcdb68
Verbeke, Wim
231bb739-16ef-4e75-aeab-917d2696f0b7
Barnett, Julie
e075f8d9-cf31-4bfc-a6be-41988b5ce764
Marcu, Afrodita
25ba37d2-9068-4c58-8527-fb799152add3
Gaspar, Rui
961797d4-2de9-4a4c-9ecb-b501871f6eb6
Rutsaert, Pieter
42d30761-4def-493c-a794-29e12889e9f0
Seibt, Beate
77ff4397-28c2-424d-b0f4-fe363c39ae98
Fletcher, David
ea007684-9337-46eb-9c35-3a3d9bfcdb68
Verbeke, Wim
231bb739-16ef-4e75-aeab-917d2696f0b7
Barnett, Julie
e075f8d9-cf31-4bfc-a6be-41988b5ce764

Marcu, Afrodita, Gaspar, Rui, Rutsaert, Pieter, Seibt, Beate, Fletcher, David, Verbeke, Wim and Barnett, Julie (2014) Analogies, metaphors, and wondering about the future: Lay sense-making around synthetic meat. Public Understanding of Science, 1-17. (doi:10.1177/0963662514521106).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Drawing on social representations theory, we explore how the public make sense of the unfamiliar, taking as the example a novel technology: synthetic meat. Data from an online deliberation study and eighteen focus groups in Belgium, Portugal and the UK indicated that the various strategies of sense-making afforded different levels of critical thinking about synthetic meat. Anchoring to genetic modification, metaphors like ‘Frankenfoods’ and commonplaces like ‘playing God’ closed off debates around potential applications of synthetic meat, whereas asking factual and rhetorical questions about it, weighing up pragmatically its risks and benefits, and envisaging changing current mentalities or behaviours in order to adapt to scientific developments enabled a consideration of synthetic meat’s possible implications for agriculture, environment, and society. We suggest that research on public understanding of technology should cultivate a climate of active thinking and should encourage questioning during the process of sense-making to try to reduce unhelpful anchoring

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Marcu et al 2014_Synthetic Meat_PUS.pdf - Version of Record
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e-pub ahead of print date: 19 February 2014
Organisations: Psychology

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Local EPrints ID: 364526
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/364526
ISSN: 0963-6625
PURE UUID: 810ee51a-7bb5-43fb-b48a-5f29de031b27

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Date deposited: 02 May 2014 10:11
Last modified: 14 Aug 2019 18:43

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Contributors

Author: Afrodita Marcu
Author: Rui Gaspar
Author: Pieter Rutsaert
Author: Beate Seibt
Author: David Fletcher
Author: Wim Verbeke
Author: Julie Barnett

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