The meat of the matter: grasping and judging xenotransplantation

Michael, Mike and Brown, Nik. 2004. The meat of the matter: grasping and judging xenotransplantation. Public Understanding of Science, 13(4), pp. 379-397. ISSN 0963-6625 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper is concerned with the ways in which lay people come to understand and assess xenotransplantation. Drawing on focus group data, we explore how people can both demonstrate a collective process of cost–benefit thinking and tacitly problematize this by deploying three meta-arguments that we call "trust," "telos," and "trump." Respectively, these meta-arguments emphasize: unexamined relations of trust; irrelevance because innovations such as xenotransplantation are inevitable; and redundancy in the face of desperation. We then consider how lay people draw upon certain analogies associated with meat in order to grasp the meaning of xenotransplantation. The data show how "meat" itself displays disparate and contested meanings. Depending on what aspects of meat are emphasized, xenotransplantation is represented in either a negative or a positive light. Some of the implications of the fluidity of the meaning of both meat and xenotransplantation for cost– benefit thinking in lay and expert discourse are discussed.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]



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Date Deposited:

15 Jan 2010 15:52

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:12

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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