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Tampering with nature: 'nature' and the 'natural' in media coverage of genetics and biotechnology

By Anders Hansen


Concepts of nature and the ‘natural’ order of things form a central anchor in public debate and controversy about developments in genetic research and in human, animal and plant biotechnology. ‘Nature’, as Raymond Williams observed, ‘is perhaps the most complex word in the language’, and it is precisely from this complexity that its discursive and ideological power is derived. While it is widely accepted that ‘nature' is a social construct, it is perhaps its characteristic appearance of not being so that makes it a powerful ideological anchor. This article examines how nature and appeals to what is ‘natural’ are invoked in media discourse on genetics. Starting with a review of research on the representation of genetics and on ‘nature’ in a range of public discourses and media genres, the article explores the changing uses of nature in British newspaper coverage of genetics and biotechnology from 1986/7 to 2002/3

Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0163443706067026
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