East Asia

Value predispositions as perceptual filters: Comparing of public attitudes toward nanotechnology in the United States and Singapore

Xuan Liang, Shirley S. Ho, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos, Dietram A. Scheufele, Ashley A. Anderson, Xiaoming Hao, Xiaoyu He

This study compares public attitudes toward nanotechnology in the United States and Singapore, using large-scale survey data in both countries. Results indicate that Singaporeans tend to be more knowledgeable about and familiar with nanotechnology than the U.S. public. Singaporeans tend to perceive greater benefits and fewer potential risks of nanotechnology, and to indicate greater support for government funding for nanotechnology than the U.S. public. Between the two countries, perceived familiarity with nanotechnology and the benefits and risks of the emerging technology tend to be interpreted differently through the lens of value predispositions (religiosity and deference to scientific authority) and therefore they indirectly affect public support. Specifically, the U.S. public tends to use religiosity to interpret benefits and Singaporeans are inclined to use religiosity to think about risks. Deference to scientific authority also moderates the impact of perceived familiarity with nanotechnology on funding support for the technology among the U.S. public.

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Evaluating the 2008 consensus conference on genetically modified foods in Taiwan

Mei-Fang Fan

Genetically modified foods have become one of the most popular topics for deliberative exercises involving ordinary citizens worldwide. This paper examines the Taiwanese consensus conference on GM foods held in June 2008, and the implications and limitations of the public deliberations. The consensus conference facilitated multiparty dialogues and enhanced citizens’ knowledge, and affected their attitudes. This study demonstrates the ways contextual factors have influenced the outcome of the citizens’ deliberative practices, including the government’s conventional technocratic decision-making style, the strong influence of the U.S. government, the political and technological culture, the government’s framing of economic development concerns, and a lack of pressure from civil society to compel the government to formally respond to their concerns. The consensus conference had a limited effect on policy decision-making, and seemed to serve as a socio-political experiment.

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Lessons learned from the 2011 debacle of the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Toshio Sugiman

The history of nuclear power generation in Japan is analyzed with respect to how the organizational structure of the “nuclear villages,” composed of government, private companies and the academic world, negotiated with the growing technology before the Fukushima accident took place. Although nuclear specialists were aware of the potential for a disaster, that did not prevent the enthusiasm for nuclear. The majority of people trusted that new technology would make life easier. The organizational structure of the village consisted of a triangle in which each of the three groups and sub-groups maintained relationships with each other and with the village as a whole to secure its own share of the economic benefits. Based on the sociological theory of norm, we demonstrate that the structure and nature of the relationships in the village facilitated the acceptance of nuclear power despite the element of threat.

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News Media Use, Informed Issue Evaluation, and South Koreans’ Support for Genetically Modified Foods

Sei-Hill Kim, Jeong-Nam Kim, Doo-Hun Choi & Sangil Jun

Analyzing survey data on the issue of genetically modified foods in South Korea, this study explores the role of news media in facilitating informed issue evaluation. Respondents who read a newspaper more often were more knowledgeable about the issue. Also, heavy newspaper readers were more able than light readers to hold consistent views on different aspects of the issue. When it comes to television news, heavy viewers held stronger opinions than light viewers on the key issue attributes. News media use seems to allow the audience to engage in greater cognitive elaboration, helping them to make an informed and deliberate issue evaluation.

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