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Title: A critical discourse analysis of the 'GM Nation?' public debate
Authors: Attar, Mohammed Arif
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The increasing application of science and technology, while having reduced uncertainties and threats to mankind (like impacts of natural disasters), has also created new uncertainties in terms of risks and ethics. Environmental risks from new technological innovations and ethical questions raised by developments in genetics are the defining uncertainties associated with technology in our risk society. Also the current socio-economic order is a knowledge-driven one. This ‘knowledge-based’ society also implies that it is a discourse driven order, with language playing a more critical role in contemporary socio-economic changes than it has in the past. Policy makers around the world, in response to these new challenges to technological innovations thrown up by this risk society, have started moving away from expert-based governance of science and technology and towards governance based on transparency, public dialogue and democratic engagement. It is within this context that this research analyses, using a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) perspective, the largest ever public engagement exercise conducted in the UK – the 2003 ‘GM Nation?’ public debate on the possible commercialisation of genetically modified crops in the UK. The primary aim of conducting this piece of research is to have a better and deeper understanding of the process of engaging the public in policy-making on technological issues. This includes analysing the aspiration to normative democratic ideals of public-engagement exercises and the role of the public in technological transition. The aspect of relations of power and domination between participants in public engagement exercises has been largely neglected in the empirical literature and this research aims at exploring these aspects in detail through the use of CDA as a research method. The findings of this research point to the ideological influence of the discourse of the market or, more generally, the neoliberal discourse in the contemporary socio-economic environment in the UK. This research concludes that the agriculture regime in the UK continues to operate under the selection pressure of the economic discourse despite the emergence of niche counter discourses of sustainability in recent years.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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