Factors influencing societal response of nanotechnology : an expert stakeholder analysis

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Gupta, N. ; Fischer, A.R.H. ; Lans, van der, I.A. ; Frewer, L.J. (2012)

Nanotechnology can be described as an emerging technology and, as has been the case with other emerging technologies such as genetic modification, different socio-psychological factors will potentially influence societal responses to its development and application. These factors will play an important role in how nanotechnology is developed and commercialised. This article aims to identify expert opinion on factors influencing societal response to applications of nanotechnology. Structured interviews with experts on nanotechnology from North West Europe were conducted using repertory grid methodology in conjunction with generalized Procrustes analysis to examine the psychological constructs underlying societal uptake of 15 key applications of nanotechnology drawn from different areas (e.g. medicine, agriculture and environment, chemical, food, military, sports, and cosmetics). Based on expert judgement, the main factors influencing societal response to different applications of nanotechnology will be the extent to which applications are perceived to be beneficial, useful, and necessary, and how 'real' and physically close to the end-user these applications are perceived to be by the public
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