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The Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in South Korea: Contesting National Sociotechnical Imaginaries

Title
The Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in South Korea: Contesting National Sociotechnical Imaginaries
Author
김상현
Keywords
sociotechnical imaginary; human embryonic stem cells; biotechnology; bioethics; biosafety; South Korea
Issue Date
2014-09
Publisher
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS
Citation
SCIENCE AS CULTURE, SEP 2014, 23(3), p293-p319, 27p
Abstract
To many commentators outside South Korea, the Hwang Woo Suk scandal involving human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research was just another spectacular case of misconduct in the life sciences. As such, it is generally assumed to have revealed the drawbacks of research in scientifically and ethically less-developed societies. Such thinking ignores the history, sophistication, and distinctive features of the public debate over hESC research in South Korea. Disputes over the social and ethical implications of hESC research had taken place for some time before the scandal erupted. Moreover, unlike in some other countries, where resistance to hESC research was prompted by religious conservatives, the most serious critique of the country's rapid move into the field came from progressive social movement activists-including feminists and environmentalists. These activists were, in fact, part of the non-governmental organization coalition to impose stricter social controls on biotechnology. This campaign was motivated by broader political and social concerns beyond specific biosafety or bioethical issues. The activists involved in the coalition feared that the capitalist-developmentalist drive toward biotechnology would threaten the public interest and democracy, and ultimately block South Korea's road to becoming a democratic nation founded on the values of social justice, equality, participation, and sustainability. In contesting South Korea's prevailing approaches to hESC research, they challenged, albeit unsuccessfully, the dominant 'national sociotechnical imaginary' that articulates the role of science and technology in relation to the future survival and well-being of the nation primarily in terms of its industrial competitiveness.
URI
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09505431.2013.860095http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11754/48619
ISSN
0950-5431; 1470-1189
DOI
10.1080/09505431.2013.860095
Appears in Collections:
RESEARCH INSTITUTE[S](부설연구소) > RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF COMPARATIVE HISTORY & CULTURE(비교역사문화연구소) > Articles
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