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Challenges of Biomedicine – Socio-Cultural Contexts, European Governance, and Bioethics

Final Online Publication, edited by Ulrike Felt and Maximilian Fochler

Data & Methods: Making Public Approaches Visible

The project employed a multi-method research design, comprising

In order to meet CoB’s major empirical aim - to explore the interrelation between socio-cultural conditions and public perceptions of medical research and practice - methods of qualitative social science research (focus groups and ethnographic interviews) were chosen. Such a qualitative approach allowed us to explore the fine-grained meanings and argumentation structures related to citizens’ positions towards modern biomedicine in the respective countries.

 Quantitative studies such as the Eurobarometer have partially revealed  quite strong differences across the European Union in attitudes towards science and technology in general, and towards biomedicine in particular. However, the ability of such approaches to explain the reasons for these differences and their relation to the respective cultural context is limited. Such surveys may chart people’s opinion on issues and activities such as “biomedicine”, but are unable to deliver for example a more fine-grained understanding of the different meaning people may attach to this notion.

 Hence, qualitative insights into the cultural construction of meanings of and attitudes towards biomedicine are of key importance for a more subtle understanding of the multi-layered challenges modern biomedicine poses in the context of the European Union. And such an understanding is an inevitable prerequisite for any effort of common European policy making on these issues – be it the development of European bioethical guidelines or of new modes of governing biomedicine.


Cite as: Challenges of Biomedicine. Final Online Publication, accessed at: [Mainpagepage: www.univie.ac.at/virusss/cobpublication]

This Final Online Publication is Deliverable No5, the comprised Short Report on Consequences and Recommendations Deliverable No6 to the Contract of the FP6 Project “Challenges of Biomedicine” (Project no. SAS6-CT-2003-510238)