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Cultural theory and plural rationalities: perspectives on GM among UK scientists

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Policy makers and regulators use scientists' advice as a basis for making decisions about GM technology, but tend to discount diversity among the views of scientists. This paper reports on an empirical study of 13 UK scientists who have become engaged publicly on different sides in the GM debate. Cultural Theory was chosen as a framework to analyse the data, because it is based on an assumption that complex societies contain plural rationalities. This study drew on previous empirical research but developed and extended the Cultural Theory approach. In-depth qualitative analysis of interview transcripts, taking contextual factors into account, and triangulating with other sources of data, showed patterns of positive and negative comments that correspond to cultural biases. These patterns were graphically displayed as semi-quantitative bar charts which allowed a detailed visual analysis and indicated four distinct perspectives which correspond to hierarchist, egalitarian, individualist and autonomous cultural biases, within the context of the GM debate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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