Scientific developments have always been central to conceptions of society at particular historical moments. However, the rise of molecular biology and the new genetic knowledge in the twentieth century pose particular challenges to our notions of the individual, our sense of past and future, and our relationships with the body, nature and the family. As a number of authors have suggested, the meanings of `life itself' may be in the process of subtle transformation and many of these reconfigurations are occurring more rapidly than our ability to fully grasp their social and cultural implications.
A fascinating work, the first volume in this collection sets out the background to scientific developments, the social responses to them and the constitution of science and technology as subjects for sociological analysis. The following volumes explore the interactions between biotechnology and the politics of the environment, the cultural context in which science is practised, and the broader social consequences that it may be expected to have.
A general introduction maps key approaches and controversies, highlighting particular theoretical and methodological perspectives, and each individual volume is introduced by a specialist in the field.