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Making Doable Problems within Controversial Science: U.S. and Swedish Scientists’ Experience of Gene Transfer Research
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Hur forskare skapar utförbara problem inom en kontroversiell vetenskap : Amerikanska och svenska forskares erfarenheter av genterapiforskning (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores how scientists within the controversial scientific field of gene  transfer make their research doable. Based on in-depth interviews with gene transfer scientists and key individuals from different regulatory agencies and advisory boards in Sweden and the U.S.A., the study focuses on how scientists describe and reason about how they handle the various problems that confront them as they work in a technically advanced and highly controversial field of research.

Drawing upon Clarke and Fujimura’s concepts of situatedness and doability, Latour’s concepts of enrollment and translation, Strauss’concepts of articulation work and alignment as well as Gieryn’s concept of boundary-work, the study analyzes how doable problems are constructed within gene transfer, from basic science to clinical application on human subjects. Doable problems were constructed by enrolling allies on different levels, translating interests and creating alignment of interests and activities of the allies enrolled. The study covers how scientists handle questions of funding, research cooperation and choice of scientific material as well as the ethical complications involved in gene transfer research and its applications. For the U.S. scientists an essential part of creating doable problems consisted of boundary-work in relation to regulatory demands and interventions, something that did not concern the Swedish scientists to the same extent.

Gene transfer, due to its controversial character, has raised public fears and concerns. Using Goffman’s concept of frames, the study also analyzes how gene transfer scientists attempt to gain public acceptance by framing gene transfer as an ordinary kind of therapy, while simultaneously heralding it as a revolutionary new technology, in order to obtain the external funding necessary for an expensive and extensive research.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen undersöker hur forskare inom det kontroversiella forskningsfältet genterapi gör sin forskning möjlig. Utifrån djupintervjuer med genterapiforskare samt med nyckelpersoner inom  regleringsmyndigheter och rådgivande organ i Sverige och USA visas i avhandlingen hur forskare beskriver och resonerar kring hur de hanterar olika problem som uppstår i deras arbete inom ett vetenskapligt avancerat och mycket kontroversiellt forskningsfält.

Med hjälp av Clarke och Fujimura’s begrepp situatedness och doability, Latour’s begrepp enrollering och översättning, Strauss’ begrepp articulation work och alignment samt Gieryn’s begrepp gränsarbete analyserar avhandlingen forskarnas arbete med att konstruera utförbara problem inom genterapiforskning, från grundforskning till klinisk tillämpning på människor. Detta sker genom enrollering av allierade på olika nivåer, genom översättning av olika aktörers intressen samt genom att dessa enrollerade allierades verksamheter och intressen läggs i linje med forskarnas egna. Avhandlingen tar upp hur forskarna hanterar olika praktiska problem, som finansiering, forskningssamarbete och val av forskningsmaterial, samt hur de bemöter de olika etiska problem som genterapiforskningen och dess tillämpning innebär. Avhandlingen visar även på en viktig skillnad mellan de intervjuade amerikanska och svenska forskarna. I USA måste forskarna hantera en stark reglering av deras arbete, något som inte berör de svenska forskarna på samma sätt; de amerikanska forskarna måste därvid använda olika former av gränsarbete i sina relationer till reglerande myndigheter.

Genterapins osäkra och kontroversiella karaktär har orsakat rädsla och oro hos allmänheten. Avhandlingen analyserar genterapiforskarnas försök att skapa samhällelig acceptans för sin forskning genom att ge den en inramning som en etablerad form av medicinsk behandling. Detta sker i viss motsättning till en parallell inramning av genterapi som en ny och revolutionerande teknologi, något som sker i syfte att erhålla den nödvändiga finansieringen för en kostnadskrävande och omfattande forskning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2011. , 156 + appendices A-C p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 543
Keyword [en]
Gene transfer, biomedicine, controversy, situatedness, doability, doable problems, alignment, articulation work, boundary-work, frame of reference, U.S.A., Sweden, interviews
Keyword [sv]
Genterapi, biomedicin, kontrovers, doability, utförbara problem, alignment, situatedness, articulation work, gränsarbete, referensram, USA, Sverige, intervjuer.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-70542ISBN: 978-91-7393-069-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-70542DiVA: diva2:440208
Public defence
2011-10-07, TEMCAS, Hus T, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-12 Created: 2011-09-12 Last updated: 2014-10-07Bibliographically approved

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Grankvist, Hannah

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