The Physiology of Imagined Publics: From a Defi cit to an Ambivalence Model
This paper draws on the concept of imagined lay persons (ILP) to investigate how scientists working in the fi elds of bio-and nanotechnology perceive the public and how these imaginaries facilitate or hinder engagement activities. Based on 37 in-depth interviews with bio-and nanotechnology scientists, I explore how scientists construct imaginaries of publics that may shape the ways in which they address the public, perceive the benefi ts of public engagement activities, and form communication strategies. The paper argues that scientists' accounts of the public are characterised by ambivalence regarding what the public is, the public's knowledge and the public's ability to take part in scientifi c processes. Thus, the paper proposes a more comprehensive approach to understanding ILPs than provided by previous studies, which have focused on the attribution of knowledge defi cits and related fears of protest and resistance.
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