Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Stem cells, spaces and the performance of ‘the public’<br />Fiona Coyle<br />23rd January 2009<br />
Introduction<br /><ul><li>Politicized debate: scientists, policy-makers, politicians, religious bodies, pro-life groups, p...
‘The public’: unproblematically constructed
Alternatively, publics as ‘active, knowledgeable, playing multiple roles, receiving as well as shaping science’ (Edna Eisn...
Discrepencies between ‘everyday talk’ and shaping by mass media/stakeholders</li></li></ul><li>Aims<br /><ul><li>Present d...
Focus groups/interviews – ‘utilising a five day embryo to extract stem cells that might be used in the treatment of Alzhem...
Argue that complex responses simplified via construction of different versions of a ‘virtual public’
Virtual public mobilised and performed in event spaces of stem cell debate for political purposes
Virtual public – any fixed, written or verbal construction of subjectivity - freeze-frames the real into the virtual in ti...
Cardiff University: UK, USA and New Zealand press, covering  various spaces, 2000-2006 </li></li></ul><li>Public Discourse...
Plays, citizen panels, deliberative mapping techniques, dialogic conversations, roundtable conferences, vignette studies, ...
Concerned: pro-life, miscarriage/abortion, religious
Issues involved in making these decisions?  What attitudes and values come into play and how clear-cut are people’s views?...
Beyond our ‘natural’ lifespan
Inequalities - donated for ££ but can’t afford
Previous experiences of biomedical error
Little or no a-prior knowledge about non-e-SCs
Pluripotence of e-SCs
Altruism and potential for scientific advance
Positively inclined towards research
Religious/spiritual beliefs
Concerns over natural/unnaturalness</li></li></ul><li>‘Destroying a life to save a life’<br />	To me, because it has the p...
Emotive Ambivalence<br /><ul><li>Played out in a complex web of social, cultural, political and economic factors
Emotionally pulled in multiple directions by competing contexts or value-systems - views are torn, conflictual and context...
Discomfort at destruction of an embryo vs acceptability of the ‘naturalness’ of treatment
Following ‘natural’ process of life and death vs fight it with stem cell cures
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Publics, politics, media and stem cells

316 views

Published on

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Publics, politics, media and stem cells

  1. 1. Stem cells, spaces and the performance of ‘the public’<br />Fiona Coyle<br />23rd January 2009<br />
  2. 2.
  3. 3. Introduction<br /><ul><li>Politicized debate: scientists, policy-makers, politicians, religious bodies, pro-life groups, patients and ‘the public’
  4. 4. ‘The public’: unproblematically constructed
  5. 5. Alternatively, publics as ‘active, knowledgeable, playing multiple roles, receiving as well as shaping science’ (Edna Eisnedel)
  6. 6. Discrepencies between ‘everyday talk’ and shaping by mass media/stakeholders</li></li></ul><li>Aims<br /><ul><li>Present diverse/competing views (public discourses) from 2003 NZ-based research
  7. 7. Focus groups/interviews – ‘utilising a five day embryo to extract stem cells that might be used in the treatment of Alzhemier’s Disease’
  8. 8. Argue that complex responses simplified via construction of different versions of a ‘virtual public’
  9. 9. Virtual public mobilised and performed in event spaces of stem cell debate for political purposes
  10. 10. Virtual public – any fixed, written or verbal construction of subjectivity - freeze-frames the real into the virtual in time and space
  11. 11. Cardiff University: UK, USA and New Zealand press, covering various spaces, 2000-2006 </li></li></ul><li>Public Discourses on Stem Cells<br /><ul><li>Interviews, focus groups, consultations, large scale surveys such as the Eurobarometer and opinion polls
  12. 12. Plays, citizen panels, deliberative mapping techniques, dialogic conversations, roundtable conferences, vignette studies, public debates and online discussion forums</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Majority in favour of eSCR, pref for adult SCR
  13. 13. Concerned: pro-life, miscarriage/abortion, religious
  14. 14. Issues involved in making these decisions? What attitudes and values come into play and how clear-cut are people’s views?</li></li></ul><li>Issues<br /><ul><li>Research that benefits the young over the old
  15. 15. Beyond our ‘natural’ lifespan
  16. 16. Inequalities - donated for ££ but can’t afford
  17. 17. Previous experiences of biomedical error
  18. 18. Little or no a-prior knowledge about non-e-SCs
  19. 19. Pluripotence of e-SCs
  20. 20. Altruism and potential for scientific advance
  21. 21. Positively inclined towards research
  22. 22. Religious/spiritual beliefs
  23. 23. Concerns over natural/unnaturalness</li></li></ul><li>‘Destroying a life to save a life’<br /> To me, because it has the potential for life, its already living, to me it has a soul, it’s an existing being. And if left, if it was in a womb, it would grow into a person. I think that it would be entirely, incredibly selfish of a person with Alzheimer’s to take the life of. I know, personally, if I had Alzheimer’s, I could never justify it in my heart to do that to. <br /> Spiritual male [Buddhist/Christian/Maori], early thirties<br />  <br /> The Indian mythology says that even if the baby is not born, when it is developing in your body, it can understand and it can hear you. So – it’s like exploiting a life, which has not even seen the world.<br /> Asian female, scientist, Auckland focus group <br /> (comment on embryonic stem cell research from focus group) <br />  <br /> So the question is, how does one live with integrity, honesty, compassion, healing, when you know darn well that they are doing something at the expense of other beings. So the idea that you could not do harm in the world or not kill is a fantasy. So then the question comes up, how can I live a life that can somehow redress this? It’s almost as if, I’m going to cause suffering in the life of this being so that I can go longer. How can I justify my being? <br /> Buddhist male, early sixties<br />
  24. 24. Emotive Ambivalence<br /><ul><li>Played out in a complex web of social, cultural, political and economic factors
  25. 25. Emotionally pulled in multiple directions by competing contexts or value-systems - views are torn, conflictual and context dependent
  26. 26. Discomfort at destruction of an embryo vs acceptability of the ‘naturalness’ of treatment
  27. 27. Following ‘natural’ process of life and death vs fight it with stem cell cures
  28. 28. Making a rational or emotional decision</li></li></ul><li> ‘I don’t think I’ve really resolved that in my mind…intuitively, I have a problem with using embryos to treat people because in my mind they are kind of like babies, so to me, it’s a slightly grotesque idea. It makes me feel uncomfortable and there’s no real rational reason for that…In my mind I imagine this to be a baby, even though it isn’t really a baby, it’s just a blob of cells…Its kind of, my emotional response is it’s a baby, but my intellectual response is that it’s not. And I find it hard to reconcile those two sides of myself’. <br /> Spiritual male, mid twenties <br />
  29. 29. Contextual Acceptability<br /><ul><li>Can’t make a decision unless ‘walked a mile in someone else’s shoes’ (Eureka Strategic Research, 2005)</li></ul> There was work being done on mice with regards to being able to repair damaged spinal cord. Now my father who spent many years in a wheel chair, would have been absolutely thrilled with that. And I reckon he would have gladly grown a tail if it meant he was able to walk again! And it just seems that it would be so precious to not allow these sort of gains to at least be investigated because it’s perceived to be unnatural’.<br /> Atheist male, early fifties, Waimate focus group, New Zealand <br /><ul><li>Diverse publics are ‘virtual publics’ – flexible techniques, but still sifted through the research lens and frozen in time and space</li></li></ul><li>DISCOURSES ABOUT THE PUBLIC<br />
  30. 30. <ul><li>eSC debate: scientists, politicians, pro-life groups, religious bodies and patient groups
  31. 31. Virtual ‘public’, ‘people’, ‘citizens’, ‘taxpayers’ and named/anonymous individuals
  32. 32. ‘emotional’, ‘hostile’ and ‘irrational’
  33. 33. ‘abhorrence’, ‘public revulsion’, ‘hysteria’, ‘horror’ and ‘yuck’ factor
  34. 34. Academic research on publics noted for its absence </li></li></ul><li>Absence of public voice...<br /><ul><li>Rare presence in the media both deliberate and significant</li></ul>Who utilises the public and in what shape and form?<br />When are various constructions of the public enlisted as actors in the stem cell debate? <br />In which ‘event spaces’ of the debate are the public referenced? <br />What purpose does this mobilisation serve? <br />
  35. 35. POLITICAL SPACES<br />Parliament, Senate, consultations, George Bush’s ranch<br />
  36. 36. Parliament<br /><ul><li>UK – 2000 Donaldson Report and parliamentary vote
  37. 37. Experts, MPs, journalists and stakeholders conjured up images of an anxious public
  38. 38. Confusion - rapid technological development and inappropriate science communication/guidance: ‘miracle cures’ just around the corner</li></ul> ‘Public anxiety needs to be dealt with in an open and sympathetic way. The public must be shown openly and to its satisfaction that rigorous ethical guidelines are put in place’ (Liam Fox,Parliament – Science: Blair backs move to allow human embryo research, The Independent, 20th December 2000). <br />
  39. 39. <ul><li>New Zealand similar scenario after GE debate
  40. 40. Hon Bill English, this ‘is about a whole new world around which there is emotion and hysteria’ (Bill English, National, Clutha-Southland, Hansard, 20th October 2004).
  41. 41. MPs as ethical guardians of public interest</li></li></ul><li>George Bush’s Ranch<br /><ul><li>Power and sway, August 2001 to GWB
  42. 42. Critical announcement – federal funding for eSCR
  43. 43. Ranch politicised, hospitable/accessible to US citizens
  44. 44. National address: public education talk on ethical issues on national airwaves
  45. 45. ‘Posturing’ as the people’s president – denounced opinion polls, based decision on discussions with Aides</li></li></ul><li>PUBLIC SPACES<br />‘Vox pop’ interviews on the street, mass demonstrations, cyberspace<br />, <br />
  46. 46. Vox Pop<br /><ul><li>Traditional to UK media, but rarely used
  47. 47. NZ absent, USA interviews with South Korean market traders
  48. 48. Individual representative residents, specific question, legislative moments/scientific breakthroughs or controversies
  49. 49. Selection to polarise debate or denote need for public education
  50. 50. 2004 Radio 5 transcript, Alison Murdoch after granted license to therapeutically clone embryos.
  51. 51. Scene-setting introduction, ‘a quick reaction from the people of Newcastle’ – range of views = need for public education</li></li></ul><li>Radio 5 Interview with Alison Murdoch <br /> ‘Newcastle resident #1<br /> Well, I would support cloning if it was to help cure disease, but I’d be a bit uncomfortable about what might happen next; where it might go from there. We might end up with little monsters [laughs].’ <br /> Newcastle resident #2<br /> I’m in favour of anything that’s going to develop medicines that’s going to help mankind. I think, as far as this question goes, we have this suspicion that the scientists and the scientific world is not open about what they’re doing, in layman’s terms. It’s what they’ve all got to do. <br /> Newcastle resident #3<br /> Me gut feeling would be to say “no”, because I don’t know enough about it, you know. If the media was to come up with a lot more, in the papers, and things like that, then maybe “yes”. <br /> Newcastle resident #4<br /> I think the trouble today is that the media tend to be dominated by single issue groups who are pushing a particular interest, and the public haven’t been sufficiently educated, scientifically, to understand what’s going on. <br />
  52. 52. Analysis<br /><ul><li>Link: ‘So, most people would like to know what’s going on’
  53. 53. Addressed: by Alison Murdoch, agreed that ‘some of those comments that those people have made clearly indicate that we haven’t got the message over’ (BBC Radio 5, 11th August 2004, 16:05)
  54. 54. Forum: radio show
  55. 55. Setup: public comments attract listeners
  56. 56. Deficit public – range of opinions actually deficit, unsure, education lacking, suspicious of media, scientists, BUT potentially pro research and demanding education from media</li></li></ul><li>South Korean rallying<br /><ul><li>In support of fallen hero, Hwang Woo Suk, utilised embryos derived from his female researchers and faked some of his results
  57. 57. Embodied performance of national support for hero
  58. 58. Women wearing the national flower of Korea demonstrated outside SNU, holding placards saying, 'Cheer up, Professor Hwang!' (‘Focus: Cloning scandal: disgrace’, The Observer, 1st January 2006) </li></li></ul><li>Cyberspace<br /><ul><li>Emotive, individual postings
  59. 59. Virtually demonstrated support for what </li></ul> Hwang tried to achieve, even if unethical<br /> But like all disgraced heroes, Hwang still has his defenders. One wrote on the ‘I Love HWS’ website: ‘I believe in HWS. . . whatever happened, whatever happens, whatever may happen. . . for he showed me the way how to live as a good Korean.’ (‘Focus: Cloning scandal: disgrace’, The Observer, 1st January 2006). <br /><ul><li>US press – Hwang humanised; humble beginnings, worked earnestly, religious values = American dream</li></li></ul><li>Cyberspace...<br /><ul><li>Public anger directed at PD Notebook
  60. 60. ‘On Saturday, President Roh Moo Hyun [of PD Notebook] posted a statement on his Web site saying that ''the public’s response went too far.'' But hours after his message, about 50 people started a candlelight vigil in front of the MBC studios’. (‘South Koreans Rush to Defend Cloning Researcher Against Criticism’ The New York Times, November 29, 2005).
  61. 61. US likely continuation of story; UK journalists used to suggest we’d all been fooled by Hwang and promise of stem cells.</li></li></ul><li>CONCLUSIONS<br /><ul><li>Brief snapshot of complex responses of diverse publics
  62. 62. Particular research framework, conducted, taped, transcribed, analysed and transformed into a MS Powerpoint document - ‘virtual publics’.
  63. 63. ‘Virtual publics’ ≠ multiple versions of the ‘virtual public’
  64. 64. The ‘virtual public’ simplified, mobilised, performed by journalists, politicians, experts and policy-makers
  65. 65. Different spaces of debate, but always for a political purpose</li></li></ul><li>

×