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Institutional imaginaries of publics in stem cell banking: the cases of the UK and Spain

Stephens, Neil James, Atkinson, Paul Anthony and Glasner, Peter Egon 2013. Institutional imaginaries of publics in stem cell banking: the cases of the UK and Spain. Science as Culture 22 (4) , pp. 497-515. 10.1080/14636778.2013.764071

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The UK and Spanish Stem Cell Banks hold politically controversial—but potentially therapeutically beneficial—human embryonic stem cells for distribution to research laboratories globally. The UK bank was the first of its type in the world, opening in 2004, and the Spanish bank used it as a role model in its own development. Both banks structure their operations in response to how their staffs imagine the publics in their nation make trust judgements about their work. Differences between the workings of each bank can be traced to differences in the collective imaginings operating at each bank—termed ‘institutional imaginaries’—about how publics think. The UK bank sustains an imaginary in which distance lends legitimacy and disengagement signifies correct moral practice. It conjures a public that values a steady, safe and reliable institution—free from potential conflict of interest—about which the less news the better. This stands in contrast to the Spanish bank that conjures a public that retains an interest in legitimate, ethical guardianship of stem cell material, but which is less worried about conflict of interest in attaining this. Instead, for the Spanish institution, engagement with science and the media through the projection of the bank as cutting edge is deemed crucial for maintaining public support.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Publics, stem cell banks, UK, Spain, imaginaries
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0950-5431
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:07

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