Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Governing at the Nanoscale: People, policies and emerging technologies

Kearnes, M.B.; Macnaghten, P.M.; Wilsdon, J.

Governing at the Nanoscale: People, policies and emerging technologies Thumbnail


M.B. Kearnes

P.M. Macnaghten

J. Wilsdon


Based on a two-year ESRC-funded project by Demos and Lancaster University, this report examines the technical and social implications of nanotechnologies. Rapid advances in nanotechnologies are giving rise to new economic, social and ethical questions. Are systems of governance and regulation keeping pace? How can we imagine the social possibilities created by emerging technologies and choose among them wisely? This pamphlet presents the findings of a two-year ESRC-funded project, which aimed to understand the social and scientific visions that are influencing nanotechnology research, and develop opportunities for ‘upstream’ dialogue between scientists and the wider public. Through interviews with scientists and policymakers, and by spending time in nanoscience laboratories, the project tried to draw out the implicit assumptions – what are sometimes termed the ‘imaginaries’ – of key players in the nanotechnology field. This was followed by a series of public focus groups, which explored questions of risk, responsibility and control, and identified potential faultlines of public controversy. At a final workshop, a group of nanoscientists and citizens shared their hopes, fears and concerns. The tone of their conversation was open and realistic, and generated a surprising degree of consensus, as members of the public developed a better sense of life in the laboratory, and the scientists grew to appreciate the legitimacy of public concerns.


Kearnes, M., Macnaghten, P., & Wilsdon, J. (2006). Governing at the Nanoscale: People, policies and emerging technologies. Demos

Book Type Authored Book
Publication Date 2006-04
Deposit Date Apr 10, 2008
Publicly Available Date Apr 10, 2008
Keywords Technology, Understanding, Public perception, Policy.
Publisher URL


Published Book (336 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Open access. Some rights reserved.<br /> As the publisher of this work,Demos has an open access policy which enables anyone to access our<br /> content electronically without charge.<br /> We want to encourage the circulation of our work as widely as possible without affecting the ownership<br /> of the copyright, which remains with the copyright holder.<br /> Users are welcome to download, save,perform or distribute this work electronically or in any other format,<br /> including in foreign language translation,without written permission subject to the conditions set out in<br /> the Demos open access licence which you can read at the back of this publication.<br /> Please read and consider the full licence.The following are some of the conditions imposed by the licence:<br /> ● Demos and the author(s) are credited<br /> ● The Demos website address ( is published together with a copy of this policy<br /> statement in a prominent position<br /> ● The text is not altered and is used in full (the use of extracts under existing fair usage rights is not<br /> affected by this condition)<br /> ● The work is not resold<br /> ● A copy of the work or link to its use online is sent to the address below for our archive.<br /> Copyright Department<br /> Demos<br /> Magdalen House<br /> 136 Tooley Street<br /> London<br /> SE1 2TU<br /> United Kingdom<br /><br /> You are welcome to ask for permission to use this work for purposes other than those covered by the<br /> Demos open access licence.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations