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Special Collection on Nanotechnologies Risk Perception and Communication

Citation Pidgeon, N.F., Harthorn, B. and Satterfield, T. Special Collection on Nanotechnologies Risk Perception and Communication. 2011. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01738.x.
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Author(s) Pidgeon, N.F., Harthorn, B. and Satterfield, T.
Opus Title Risk Analysis
Pages 1694-1700
Volume 31
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2011.01738.x

Nanotechnology involves the fabrication, manipulation, and control of materials at the atomic level and may also bring novel uncertainties and risks. Potential parallels with other controversial technologies mean there is a need to develop a comprehensive understanding of processes of public perception of nanotechnology uncertainties, risks, and benefits, alongside related communication issues. Study of perceptions, at so early a stage in the development trajectory of a technology, is probably unique in the risk perception and communication field. As such it also brings new methodological and conceptual challenges. These include: dealing with the inherent diversity of the nanotechnology field itself; the unfamiliar and intangible nature of the concept, with few analogies to anchor mental models or risk perceptions; and the ethical and value questions underlying many nanotechnology debates. Utilizing the lens of social amplification of risk, and drawing upon the various contributions to this special issue of Risk Analysis on Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions and Communication, nanotechnology may at present be an attenuated hazard. The generic idea of upstream public engagement for emerging technologies such as nanotechnology is also discussed, alongside its importance for future work with emerging technologies in the risk communication field.