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How UK psychiatric geneticists understand and talk about engaging the public

Lewis, Jamie Thornton ORCID: and Bartlett, Andrew 2015. How UK psychiatric geneticists understand and talk about engaging the public. New Genetics and Society 34 (1) , pp. 89-111. 10.1080/14636778.2014.998817

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The paper examines how leading UK psychiatric geneticists talk about public engagement. Scientific fields have distinctive publics, with specific goals for, concerns with, and obstacles to engagement. In psychiatric genetics these publics include people with psychiatric disorders, policymakers, and even medics. We found that psychiatric geneticists justify public engagement by using the language of ‘stigma’ in multiple ways. There is a belief in a deficit model of stigma – that stigmatizing attitudes among the general public and government are the result of insufficient knowledge of the biological causes of psychiatric disorders. ‘Stigma’ is, however, also co-opted to do rhetorical work within biomedicine, marking differences in therapeutic optimism as pathological. We suggest that the wider field of UK psychiatry is seen as mostly consisting of therapeutic pessimists, while the psychiatric geneticists are in a minority of therapeutic optimists. These attitudes are the product of the historical and social context of the field.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords: Psychiatric genetics; Public engagement; Public understanding of science
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISSN: 1463-6778
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 7 December 2014
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2023 09:22

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