In Risk We Trust/ Life Engineering - Among Uncertainty, Hope, and Hype

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Eva SLESINGEROVA, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
The focus of contemporary life science research has shifted from genome description, DNA mapping, and DNA sequencing to active and profound reprogramming, making synthetic life on the genetic and molecular levels. Taking analytical inspiration from the contemporary sociological view of risk and uncertainty, the presentation shows the outcomes and results of ethnographical research conducted in scientific (biological, biochemical) and IVF laboratories in the Czech Republic. The fieldwork is related to the social context in which the various technologies of molecular biology and life engineering are used. The paper focuses on technologies such as repairing DNA, using parts of DNA as tools for treatment, and CRISP/cas9. The views, perspectives, and attitudes of scientists and laboratory technicians will be analyzed and presented with special regard for the concepts of risk and hope. An analysis of media coverage and concrete laws will present the broader context. The paper concentrates mainly on the following questions: How do scientists tackle issues of risk, responsibility, and hope? How do they deal with the public’s expectations? How do they cope with the stress of the marketization of biotechnological treatments? How do they interact with hype and media coverage?