Shaping the image of stem cell research: Dynamic discourse analysis of Dutch TV media

Stem cell research is a rapidly developing field of science, investigating new possibilities for treating a wide range of serious health conditions. However, it is also highly controversial from the ethical, legal and social point of view. The role of media and press in the agenda building and framing of stem cell research is undeniable and has been discussed in numerous papers (but none regarding The Netherlands). However, media representation of stem cell research isn’t static but appears to change over time. The aim of proposed research project is to investigate changes in how stem cell research and its results have been presented in television media in The Netherlands. Drawing on data gathered from the museum Beeld en Geluid, we will examine how public discourse on stem cell has changed in the last 10 years, and which factors have played a role in this development. The dynamics of the discourse will be analyzed from two perspectives. First, a health-science perspective, focusing on how scientific developments affect the presentation of stem cell research in the media. Second, a philosophical perspective, focusing on the interaction between epistemic, social and moral values in public discourse. During the data collection stage, we will identify television programs from the major broadcasting agencies in The Netherlands that feature extensive discussion of stem cell research. The data will be analyzed using the discourse analysis approach. The project will result in a dynamical analysis of expert-to-public communication of stem cell research, that sheds light on how scientific developments interact with social and moral values in shaping the public image of controversial science.
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