Nanotechnology as an experiment in democracy: How do citizens form opinions about technology and policy?

  • Priest S
  • Greenhalgh T
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This article analyzes nanotechnology as an experiment in democratic deliberation, one that seems motivated both by a desire to improve deliberative democracy and to protect the technology from undue public interference. However, rather than involving amplified (overstated) risks, nanotechnology appears to involve attenuated (understated) risks. Results from a 3-year panel study are presented to illustrate the ways in which citizens form opinions about nanotechnology, supporting the assertion that public opinion about complex technology can be both reasonable and stable. Nevertheless, the authors also voice concern that, in the absence of public pressure, risk regulation may not evolve as swiftly as it should to protect both society and industry.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Deliberative democracy
  • Governance
  • Panel study
  • Public opinion
  • Public policy
  • Regulating risks

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  • Susanna Hornig Priest

  • Ted Greenhalgh

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