Bounding Nanotechnology: Deconstructing the Drexler-Smalley Debate

Kaplan, Sarah. Science, Technology and Society Initiative, Nanoscience and Society Research Group. (2008) Bounding Nanotechnology: Deconstructing the Drexler-Smalley Debate. In: Nanotechnology and Society: Emerging Opportunities and Challenges, October 3, 2008, Amherst, MA. (Unpublished)

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“Nanotechnology” has been touted by many as one of the most critical emerging technological fields today – offering promises of new treatments for cancer, new computing approaches, etc. However, determining what nanotechnology means, the nature of its benefits and its risks, whose research counts as nanotechnology, and who gets to speak on behalf of those who do nanotechnology – essentially, the process of drawing boundaries around nanotechnology as a field – has turned out to be a highly political process of constant negotiation with significant implications for funding, legislation, risk management and public support. In this presentation, I will focus on the construction of one of the most high-profile moments of controversy about nanotechnology’s possibilities: a debate between K. Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley, published as a “point-counterpoint feature” in Chemical & Engineering News. Drawing upon scholarship in science studies concerning boundary work as well as in organizational theory on the role of entrepreneurial actors in the emergence of institutions, we seek to broaden analysis of the debate to include important institutional and organizational contexts – particularly the role of science journalism and editorial decision-making.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
InterNano Taxonomy: Social and Economic Impacts > Social Perspectives
Collections: Science Technology and Society's Nanotechnology and Society Workshops
Depositing User: Michelle Sagan Goncalves
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2009 17:21
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2009 18:31

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