Multiple experts : scientific, medical, media and lay discourses on 'new genetics'
The significance of public relationships with scientific and medical expertise has increasingly been highlighted as an area of importance in governmental policy formulation and scientific activities. Central to this relationship has been the role of the media, frequently depicted as increasing the strained communications between science, medicine and the public in the present UK 'crisis' of expertise. Sociological research has contributed to our understandings of science, medicine, the media and lay knowledge. The research presented in this thesis correlates these contributions. It focuses on 'new genetics' to elicit the views towards communication and understanding expressed by three groups; media professionals, members of the public and medical and scientific experts. Utilising a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, this research reflects on the relationships and identities created during interactions between these three groups, ignored by prior studies that have frequently focused on one or two participants in such relationships. This thesis contributes to present debates surrounding the role of the media and public, concluding that the present climate for dialogue is a politically motivated, theoretical context, challenged by a lack of practical methods to confront long-held notions of understanding and communication between expertise and lay persons. This offers original insight into the identities members of the media, public and scientific and medical experts create, maintain and displace in their interactions. The 'crisis' in science and trust instead comes 10 represent a manufactured perception of the public and media, which continues to exclude the public from true dialogue with medical and scientific experts and maintains traditional notions of the media as incompetent.