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Governance of stem cell research: public participation and decision-making in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan

Authors: Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner and Seyoung Hwang

Abstract:

This article compares and explores forms of ‘public’ participation in the development of bioethical governance of human embryonic stem cell research (hESR) in four Asian societies, and in doing so it contributes to the wider discussions on expertise and public inclusion. The article aims to add nuance to the concept of ‘public consultation’ by focusing on the contested meanings and relationships through which public roles and public debates are defined. The analysis seeks to go beyond a straightforward comparison by interpreting public discussions of hESR as being influenced by both local conditions and interconnected global science institutions. An adequate understanding of the public participation in debates on science requires the analysis of (a) particular reasons for scientific issues to require public discussion; (b) pressures of transnational forces; (c) variability of publics relevant to bioethical regulation; and, (d) the effects of institutionalization of bioethics. This study uses data from fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2010 in four Asian countries. Most of the interviews were conducted in the local languages and concerned various kinds of public participation in bioethics activities, as well as the views of stem cell scientists on the need to involve the public in discussions on the acceptability of their research.

 

The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Social Studies of Science, volume 42, issue 4, pp. 1-25, 2012 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © The original version of this article published in Social Studies of Science is available online at: http://sss.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/06/27/0306312712450939.abstract