Not available in 2013/14
PS439      Half Unit
Science, Technology and Resistance

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Martin Bauer COL8.04


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Regulation, MSc in Regulation (Research), MSc in Social Research Methods, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

In this course we will analyse functionally how resistance, expressed in public opinion as the interplay of mass media, public perceptions and activism, impact on technological trajectories. New technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral. It is a negotiated project, a growing web of engineers, lawyers, regulators, users etc, in a dynamic configuration of ideas, materials, affiliations and dissent. The discussions explore issues leading toward a social psychology of objectification. Specific content will include: Public opinion and representations of science and technology make and brake technological projects such as nuclear power, information technology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology. While being partially supportive, public opinion often resists: why and to what effect? This is modelled in analogy to 'acute pain' (Bauer, 1991, 1997). We will explore conceptions of 'resistance' in psychotherapy, attitude research, rural studies, risk analysis and communication, media perfect studies, group dynamics, public understanding of science, and studies of social influence. Students are expected to appreciate theory driven empirical research.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Indicative reading

M Bauer (Ed), Resistance to New Technology - Nuclear Power, Information Technology, Biotechnology, CUP, 1997; J Carloppio, 'A history of social psychological reactions to new technology', Journal of Occupational Psychology, 61, 1988; B Joerges, 'Technology in everyday life: conceptual queries', Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 18, 1988; B Latour, 'On inter-objectivity', Mind, Culture and Activity, 3, 228-245, 1996; T Marteau & M P M Richards (Eds), The Troubled Helix: Social and Psychological Implications of the New Human Genetics, CUP, 1996; J Van der Plight, Nuclear Energy and the Public, Blackwell, 1992; S R Weart, Nuclear Fear: A History of Images, Harvard University Press, 1988; M Bauer & G Gaskell, Biotechnology - the Making of a Global Controversy, CUP, 2000. No one book covers the entire syllabus; students will be expected to read widely in appropriate journals, and a list of references will be provided at the start of the course.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 24.1
Merit 55.2
Pass 20.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Psychology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information