16 Going Public:

Risk, Trust and Public Understandings of Nanotechnology

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Julie Barnett, Anna Carr and Roland Clift

Introduction

Nanotechnology has been hailed as both the harbinger of the third industrial revolution and as a potentially disruptive or transformative technology. There are a plethora of assertions that increasingly highlight either the possible benefits that nanotechnologies promise or, conversely, draw attention to possible risks (NSF 2001, 2003).1 The nature of some of these competing claims is well summarized by Gaskell et al (2005, p82).

With the ability to engineer and control systems at the nanometric scale, the enthusiasts predict transformative opportunities in areas as diverse as the environment, medical ...

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