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Genetic Futures and the Media

  1. Eric Jensen

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005863.pub2



How to Cite

Jensen, E. 2009. Genetic Futures and the Media. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Today, public debate over genetic futures takes place within a new societal context. There is a greater emphasis from policymakers on promoting engagement between sciences and publics, and mass media play a key role in this shifting relationship. Media representations of genetic futures are often subject to both positive and negative hype. This tendency towards ‘genohype’ results from the economic imperative of journalistic and entertainment media production. Moreover, symbolic representations from science fiction continue to influence mainstream news coverage of genetics, present and future. The ways in which media representations of genetic futures influence audiences are only partially known; however, it is clear that there is a complex negotiation between existing attitudes, knowledge and values and the messages communicated about genetic futures by both factual and fictional media.

Key Concepts:

  • Media coverage of genetic futures takes place within a new context for sciences–society relations.

  • The conventional ‘fact/fiction’ division cannot be consistently upheld in media representations of genetic futures, given the considerable traffic of symbols and ideas across this divide.

  • The production of media representations of genetic futures relies on information subsidies including press releases, news conferences and other methods of communicating institutionally preferred public relations information directly to the media.

  • Media can raise the salience of particular issues or aspects of the implications of genetic research, but they cannot consistently or straightforwardly change the opinions that publics hold.


  • news media;
  • public understanding of science;
  • science journalism;
  • science fiction;
  • public engagement with science;
  • human cloning