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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1986

Elaine Draper

The problem of workers at risk should be reframed to reflect the impact of social stratification, power relations and divergent interests in occupational health practices…

Abstract

The problem of workers at risk should be reframed to reflect the impact of social stratification, power relations and divergent interests in occupational health practices. The past two decades have seen rapid developments in technology for detecting genetic traits and abnormalities in individuals that may indicate damage from chemical exposure. Occupational physicians, industrial managers and biomedical scientists increasingly favour this technology. However these methods have only selective appeal and are quite controversial. Their accuracy in identifying high‐risk workers is disputed as well as their value and consequences. Social factors that shape the way workers at risk have been defined are discussed. These social processes help to explain the way issues of risk are framed and industrial practices are conducted. They also explain patterns of support and opposition to genetic technology.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1992

David C. Wyld, Sam D. Cappel and Daniel E. Hallock

In their book Megatrends 2000, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene (1990) stated that one of the ten “megatrends for the 1990's would be the rise of “The Age of Biology.”…

Abstract

In their book Megatrends 2000, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene (1990) stated that one of the ten “megatrends for the 1990's would be the rise of “The Age of Biology.” One of the central forces behind this societal shift which is occurring right now, they say, is research into understanding human genetics and the rise of biotechnology. The scientific knowledge regarding human genetics and the technology to examine an individual's genetic makeup have grown at a rapid pace, especially in the last decade as a result of the Human Genome Project. This venture has been labelled alternatively as “mediocre science” (Roberts, 1990b: p. 804) and as “biology's Holy Grail,” (Nelkin and Tancredi, 1989: p. 14). It is indisputably a monumental scientific undertaking, likened to the drive to put a man on the moon in the sixties (“The Geography of Genes,” 1989). This knowledge and the resultant trends will likely prove to be important factors not only in our future economy, but also in the nature of how we understand ourselves.

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Equal Opportunities International, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1986

Bennett M. Judkins

Over the last two decades concern has increased in many countries over health and safety in the workplace. Research into these issues has attracted little attention from…

Abstract

Over the last two decades concern has increased in many countries over health and safety in the workplace. Research into these issues has attracted little attention from the medical profession, unions, government or industry. Sociologists have only recently begun to study the relationship between work and health, but the results so far raise important questions. This special issue reflects the diversity of perspectives and the potential contribution that sociology can make.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 11 December 2007

Duncan Wilson

Debates regarding patient claims to extant tissue samples are often cited as beginning with the infamous US case of John Moore vs. the Regents of the University of…

Abstract

Debates regarding patient claims to extant tissue samples are often cited as beginning with the infamous US case of John Moore vs. the Regents of the University of California (1984–1990) – where the plaintiff unsuccessfully tried to claim title in a cell line derived from his excised spleen. Following the 1990 Supreme Court verdict, the issue of patient property in excised tissue was held by certain bioethicists as the ethical problem inhering in biomedical research from the 1980s onward: encompassing debates about a newly-avaricious biotechnology, consent, autonomy and identity. I show here that the concept of patient property was first mooted during the 1970s, some 10 years before Moore, as a response to US-based criticism of the use of foetal and human tissues in research. Rather than representing a struggle between an avaricious science and misled patients, it evolved as a result of debates between philosophers, lawyers, scientists and members of the public, amidst broader debates regarding human experimentation and abortion. Moreover, the first person to assert a patient's right to their own, or their family's tissue, in a legal arena was a scientist. This article attempts to investigate, through the evolution of ownership debates, how bioethicists and scientists themselves construct what counts as ‘public opinion’.

Details

Bioethical Issues, Sociological Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1438-6

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1998

Dorothy Nelkin and Mark Michaels

Looks at the contemporary debate on US immigration, focusing particularly on the increasing articulation of eugenics. Notes that, at times of economic and moral crisis…

Abstract

Looks at the contemporary debate on US immigration, focusing particularly on the increasing articulation of eugenics. Notes that, at times of economic and moral crisis, biological generalizations tend to resurface to provide support for the existing system of privilege and rights, and that the information superhighway provides the perfect vehicle for rapidly spreading beliefs and information. Addresses three specific issues – the genetically determined traits and behaviours of specific racial groups, culture as an expression of biological characteristics, and immigration destroying the racial purity of American society. Outlines briefly US history of immigration. Airs the current concerns on US immigration – pinpointing that concern lies not in immigration per se., which has declined in the last decade, but in the changing national origin of new immigrants, that is immigrants are now mainly Latin American or Asian, which is seen as a threat to Anglo‐Saxon hegemony. Refers to the work of the Pioneer Fund, exploring human variation through the racial basis of intelligence and propensity to violence and/or crime. Claims that scientific language has been adapted to reinforce worries about immigration reducing the supremacy of America’s culture.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 18 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 17 October 2011

Christian von Scheve

A neuroscientific turn has been diagnosed in several disciplines, but sociology has not yet undertaken this turn. While other social science disciplines are engaging in a…

Abstract

A neuroscientific turn has been diagnosed in several disciplines, but sociology has not yet undertaken this turn. While other social science disciplines are engaging in a lively discussion with the ‘new brain sciences’ and have established extensive collaboration, exchange between neuroscience and sociology is almost absent. Besides a general scepticism towards “reductionist” explanations, this is largely due to sociology focusing on its traditional role as observer and critic of current developments in science. In this chapter, I argue that this ‘sociology of neuroscience’ approach should be complemented by an increased attention to actual neuroscientific findings with respect to key theoretical concepts in sociology and social theory more generally. I discuss how contemporary neuroscience research can assist in sharpening and empirically refining our understanding of a number of micro-sociological concepts that often elude investigation with more traditional social science methods. I highlight the possible benefits and pitfalls of such endeavours by discussing the ‘neurosociology’ paradigm and sketch alternative ways of mutual engagement with the new brain sciences.

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Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-881-6

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Article
Publication date: 11 March 2014

Dina Abbott and Gordon Wilson

The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of lived experiences, as complementary knowledge to that provided by the sciences, for policy and intervention on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the importance of lived experiences, as complementary knowledge to that provided by the sciences, for policy and intervention on climate change.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper draws on several strands within the context of climate change: knowledge and power; human engagement; the meaning of “lived experience” (and its association with “local/indigenous knowledge”); its capture through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary inquiry; post-normal science; rationalist and public action approaches to policy and intervention. The paper combines these strands from their different literatures, previous work by the authors and interdisciplinary deliberation in a European climate change education project.

Findings

The case is made for taking account of lived experiences in climate change policy and intervention, and the dangers of not doing so. The paper, however, also identifies the challenge of establishing the validity of lived experience alongside forms of scientifically derived knowledge, and the practical challenge of capturing it in a form that is accessible to practitioners. It concludes by arguing that a public action approach to policy provides a better lens than the conventional rationalist approach to analyse the contested nature of climate science and the potential of lived experience to inform debates through active engagement.

Research limitations/implications

There has been no empirical study on climate change that addresses the research concerns. This would be necessary to forward the paper's agenda.

Practical implications

The paper makes a case for formalising evidence that is based on lived experience in policy making and intervention, and the approach that is needed.

Originality/value

The work develops the concept of lived experience in the context of climate change. Its public action theory of knowledge provides a novel means of analysing and meeting the challenge of diverse knowledge on climate change.

Details

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-8692

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 1997

Trevor Haywood

Poses the question: in envisaging a digitally networked future, what kind of graffiti can we discern on the emerging cyberwall to help us predict its likely impact on…

Abstract

Poses the question: in envisaging a digitally networked future, what kind of graffiti can we discern on the emerging cyberwall to help us predict its likely impact on large populations? All evaluation of infant technologies is a complex business. Technology gives and it takes away. Science transforms human behaviour but we want it to be subject to the scrutiny of independent moral principles, which themselves shift. Argues that the long‐term advantages or disadvantages that will spin off from the electronic flow and rush of information will grow out of the wider, messier social, political and economic imperatives of the future world within which networking will reside. Electronic communication along networks operates on many levels: it is heavily diffused throughout the rest of the technical pantheon. Its exacerbation of the already discernible drift towards social isolation and alienation and its role in facilitating the economic and social rejuvenation of large, as opposed to élite, populations seem more questionable.

Details

Library Review, vol. 46 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 September 2014

Brian P. Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis

The pupose of this paper is twofold. First, to consider the cultural reception of recent developments in genetic technology and human reproduction, particularly in…

Abstract

Purpose

The pupose of this paper is twofold. First, to consider the cultural reception of recent developments in genetic technology and human reproduction, particularly in relation to the prospect of human cloning and the advent of the “designer human”; and second, to explore the ways in which public discussion of these developments presuppose and recast issues of diversity, difference and (in)equality.

Design/methodology/approach

The research draws upon UK print media sources (broadsheet and tabloid newspapers) over the past two decades to examine the ways in which cultural expectations concerning developments in reproductive technology are commonly expressed. It does not aim at a quantitative examination of the content of what was said; rather it seeks to explore how it was said and thus the discursive resources that were employed in doing so.

Findings

The paper suggests that images of “technology” function simultaneously as “mirrors of society”, providing a means for articulating and rhetorically rehearsing the various philosophical antinomies and moral conflicts that characterize social organization.

Originality/value

The paper adopts a novel approach to the question of diversity, difference and (in)equality by considering the “monsters” discursively associated with recent developments in genetic and reproductive technology as well as the “monstrous” forms of social organization that they foreshadow.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 33 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1982

HOWARD D. WHITE and BELVER C. GRIFFITH

Interrelations of writings in a complex field such as studies of science, technology and society, turn out to be highly patterned when data on author co‐citations are…

Abstract

Interrelations of writings in a complex field such as studies of science, technology and society, turn out to be highly patterned when data on author co‐citations are statistically analysed and mapped. For both authors and specialities, the maps reveal structures of subject matter and intellectual impact, based on the perceptions of hundreds of citers since 1972. A new tool thus is available to historians and others concerned with a field's intellectual development.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 38 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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