Come on, be serious: positioning and framing in the power play of classroom-based reproductive and genetic technology debates
Murphy, Padraig (2008) Come on, be serious: positioning and framing in the power play of classroom-based reproductive and genetic technology debates. In: Bell, A. and Davies, S. and Mellor, F., (eds.) Science and its Publics. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp. 57-77. ISBN 9781847185884
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In this new era of upstream communication, scientists and science policymakers are expected to involve non-scientists earlier in technological decision-making. One of the earliest points of entry must surely be a secondary school classroom. It is here that young citizens can explore the choices they might one day make as clinicians or technologists in future policymaking, or indeed as parents, in future moments of crisis. The use of new reproductive and genetic technologies (NRGTs) is one arena for these choices. This essay describes a type of biology class where science meets its young publics—a classroom debate using films and presentations by a bioscientist as the basis for discussion about reproductive decisions and their implications for identity and society.
The aim of this essay is to report how young people connect in such a forum to wider NRGT discourses in news reports, films, comics and other media. It draws on ethnographic research in six secondary level schools, with students aged from 15-17 years throughout the Irish province of Leinster. I will look at the positions young people take on an NRGT debate in the form of physical, embodied self-representations on the classroom floor, as well as personal status in debate relational to other classmates. I wish to trace also their framing processes—how the debate is shaped by individuals using tactics of emphasis and verbal omissions. There is, as will be shown, a complex relationship between common discursive practices of “positioning” and “framing.” The data is analysed in the structure/action tradition of Bourdieu (1990) and de Certeau (1984), but also in that of practice-based science studies such as Schatzki et al. (2001).
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