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Title: The online genetically modified food debate : scientific expertise and alternative knowledges
Author: Price, Catherine Jane
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Using UK online news articles and below the line comments, this thesis assesses the construction of claims of scientific authority, credibility and trust, together with the contestation and disputation of these claims in connection with online news coverage and audience reception of the genetically modified (GM) food debate. The sample includes 73 online news articles and 9,279 below the line comments from 5 UK news organisations, commencing 1 January 2015 until 31 October 2015. A qualitative data analysis is conducted, combining two approaches. Firstly, a grounded theory approach as advocated by Charmaz (2014), employing the techniques of coding and memo writing. Secondly, a sociological discourse analysis drawing on theoretical concerns including expertise (Dewey, 2016; Giddens, 1991; Lippmann, 2008; Nichols, 2017), journalism (Schudson, 2008b), and risk (Beck, 1992, 1995; Douglas, 1992) to connect the findings of this study to those of theoretical relevance. Analysis of the articles reveals the contested place of scientific knowledge in the GM food debate within and between the state, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), citizens and consumers. Narratives in the articles surrounding the development of GM crops and use of science in decision making processes, illustrate the legitimacy of science. Where there is uncertainty surrounding the science of genetic modification, calls are made for further research. This is often to ascertain whose science is legitimate, e.g. the state (funded by Research Councils) or NGOs, and demonstrates the pluralistic nature of science. Below the line comments contest scientific expertise in respect of GM foods, and dispute its status as a scientific issue. Here, emphasis is on the different types of knowledges that are used rather than solely a scientific rubric. Commenters draw upon their knowledge gained from previous food scares, e.g. the BSE crisis and Horsemeat Scandal, notably how the state and food industry acknowledged and managed these incidents.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; RA Public aspects of medicine