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Time, timing and narrative at the interface between UK technoscience and policy

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Publication details

JournalScience and Public Policy
DatePublished - Oct 2011
Issue number8
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)639-648
Original languageEnglish


Questions of timing, phasing and sequence have been central to recent critiques of science policy-making, which have highlighted sustained disjunctures between the relevance and importance given to different stakeholders at different moments in the policy-making process. In this paper we expand upon this recent `upstream/downstream' literature through a case study analysis of xenotransplantation (XTP), one of the defining controversies of 1990s UK biotechnology regulation. Drawing on insights from the sociology of expectations we trace the emergence of a UK policy narrative concerning the future of XTP and explore how the policy role became narrowly defined as a process of `reflex regulation', based upon technologically determinist assumptions and producing extremely short-term decision-making. We draw attention to the concrete costs of this delineation of the policy role and reveal that it is neither inevitable or necessary, by considering contrasts between the policy temporalities of the UK, Canada and the Netherlands.

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