Report surveys nanotech, from the science to the social

By Marcy Koff, Small Times staff

Nanotechnology: From the Science to the Social is a follow-up to a 2003 report.

Apr. 5, 2007 — The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the U.K. has released a new report titled, Nanotechnology: From the Science to the Social, by Professor Stephen Wood, Professor Richard Jones, and Alison Geldart.

The report is a follow-up to The Social and Economic Challenges of Nanotechnology, published in 2003 by the ESRC. The original report investigated discussions about the emergence of nanotechnology and what this might mean for society.

The purpose of this second report is to outline the general trend in the discussions on nanotechnology’s future, to provide a context for future discussions of issues that social science might address. The authors outline how the debate was initially framed and then present an overview of literature that details the social and economic aspects of nanotechnology that has appeared since. Conclusions focus on the major developments in the debate and draw out the implications of these and omissions in the discussion for the social science agenda.

The analysis is based on literature published between July 2003 and April 2006 and includes articles in academic journals, non-governmental organization (NGO) reports, government and government-body reports, and articles in the popular science literature.
According to the authors, the social side of the debate should be broadened to include a wider set of issues, more economics, and more consideration of the social processes through which nanotechnology as an area develops and nanotechnology products emerge.


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