Comparative Studies

From my first comparative project on chemical regulation in Europe and the United States (see Controlling Chemicals), my research has tried to explain similarities and differences in national approaches to dealing with science, technology, innovation, and development. My earliest comparative research focused mainly on cross-national differences in risk assessment and regulatory standard-setting. More recently, reflecting my broader interests in the politics of science and technology, my comparative work has tried to elucidate and operationalize the concept of political culture. I have studied how different sociotechnical imaginaries of the risks, benefits, opportunities, and potentialities of science and technology are produced and sustained, including in times of crisis; and how responses to new developments in the life sciences and technologies reflect different regimes of bioconstitutionalism. A related interest is the notion of civic epistemologies, illustrating how we can move beyond constructions of “scientifically illiterate” publics to obtain a fuller, more complex picture of the dynamics of public engagement with science and technology in democratic societies.

This body of work is methodologically significant in that it shows how we can study political culture through a multisited approach, drawing on heterogeneous sources such as official policy documents, court decisions, media reports, cartoons, visual displays of politics, interviews, and official archives. Besides several books (Controlling Chemicals, Risk Management and Political Culture, Designs on Nature), and shorter works cited in the sections on risk, biotechnology, and global governance, the following papers exemplify major strands in my comparative work: