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Studying the emergence of a new social representation: Changes in thinking about nanotechnologies in early 21st‐century Italy


European Journal of Social Psychology

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--- - |2 Abstract We investigated the emergence of a new social representation (SR) of a techno‐scientific innovation—nanotechnologies—among the Italian public. We reviewed how nanotechnologies entered parliamentary debates and the media agenda in the early third millennium. We conducted cross‐sectional surveys in 2006 (N = 246) and 2011 (N = 486) to examine the emerging SR of nanotechnologies. We sought to observe processes of anchoring and objectification ‘in action’, by analyzing roles of (i) social groups, and (ii) neighboring SRs of science and of technology, over time. Several changes from 2006 to 2011 were identified: From a ‘descriptive’ to an ‘evaluative’ approach; from a ‘neutral’ to a ‘controversial’ issue; from a ‘concrete’ to an ‘abstract’ object; and from a ‘technological’ to a ‘scientific’ phenomenon. We conclude that nanotechnologies finally became ‘relevant enough’ by 2011 to be considered a proper object of SR, and an emerging SR can be observed. - European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 48, Issue 6, Page 815-833, October 2018.