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Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States Paperback – Jan 22 2007

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
State of the Art June 8 2012
By greene1004 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone with a serious interest in science policy and the way scientific expertise plays out in different countries. US citizens looking for energy policy leadership, or health care leadership, or any number of other important policy areas (biodiversity? GMOs? Climate?) often look longingly at the way these things are handled - or brokered- in the UK or the EU, especially in Germany.
Jasanoff shows, clearly and in detail, why science policy is not a modular "plug and play" enterprise that can be exported from one industrial democracy to another, that each country has a specific tradition of identifying and using scientific expertise.
This is probably the best book of its kind currently in print. It is thoroughly analytical, and not a work of advocacy. Well written, well sourced and right on target.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Requires much work by the reader Sept. 1 2010
By L. Colletti - Published on
Format: Paperback
The author deserves much recognition for this thorough selection, summary and interpretation of a mess of data.
Though, I see two limits to her work, which are probably connected to each other.

First, she does not state clearly her thesis. Or better, yes she does, but only to follow it up with
a limited series of contingent proofs or, worse, of non-convincing facts and exceptions. The speech is fuzzy, sometimes self-contradicting and difficult
to follow. For sure there's no didactic worry and the author seems to write, to digest, for herself rather than for the reader.
E.g., her thesis would be that in the USA, UK and GER the subject of biotechnology has been addressed in much
different ways (e.g. OGM approached as "product", "process", "program"), but then, if you read carefully, you realize
that the thesis is too much a forcing of facts within that picture and that the author seems to ignore it.
Just a second example: as a proof of the differences among the three countries policies,
she tells that their policies did not eventually converge on the same result, as economists would have predicted instead.
Her proof for this is that the three countries DID actually converge (OGM labels on food), but
not on what the USA would have liked (no label at all). Well, as for me, I would call that nothing less than a convergence indeed!

Secondly, the subject is perhaps too much a piece of very recent history, and that makes difficult to read it
in perspective, choosing the best working key of interpretation. Before to see a clear trend in how democracy
has played a role in this, we'll have perhaps to wait for a long time.

It's a book which is worth reading only if you are ready to do A LOT of work on it (reading it many, many times)
and to eventually put it back on the shelve without having gained a steady grasp of the real meaning of the subject, but just a collection of
single historical events and a few out-of-focus, under-construction, weak thesis to read them.
As a last remark, I have to say that I did not read the original edition, but the italian translation.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Science and power Jan. 27 2008
By Gregory N. Ashton - Published on
Format: Paperback
Great overview of the most crtical issue confronting the world today undertaken in the context of current socio-political systems and the real power behind them. Highly recommended.