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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents some of the methodological and philosophical challenges faced when conducting public engagement with emerging technologies. The intellectual origins and challenges of conducting upstream public engagement for science communication are discussed, illustrated through the case of nanotechnologies. A series of cross-national workshops held simultaneously in the United States and the UK are described. Findings included that benefits continued to be weighted more heavily than risks in participants’ perceptions of nanotechnologies, as well as did the type of application; that there were more US–UK cross-cultural similarities than differences in the data; the differences that did emerge were both subtle and contextual; and that discourses about social concerns rather than physical risk issues were more salient for participants in both countries. Four methodological challenges for upstream engagement are outlined. We argue that we must also place diverse publics and other concerned stakeholders at the heart of processes of responsible innovation

Keywords: upstream engagement, public engagement, nanotechnologies, risk, risk issues, US–UK cross-cultural similarities, responsible innovation

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