The Textures of Controversy: Values and Interests in Disputes Around Genomics

Bruce, Elizabeth Ann (2011). The Textures of Controversy: Values and Interests in Disputes Around Genomics. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis examines values-based and interests-based arguments around potentially disputed developments in genomics and the relevant policy and regulatory responses. Developments in genomics may result in disputes about the prospects and problems around them, with different stakeholders bringing a range of values and interests to bear on the many actions and decisions concerning this subject. This thesis contends that the relationship between values-based and interests-based arguments and the technical and social contexts reveal unique alignments or textures to different applications of genomics, an understanding of which will contribute to development of appropriate policy responses. Three case studies are examined: genetically modified and cloned animals, population biobanks and stem cell research. For each, a detailed examination is made of the values-based and interests-based arguments advanced and the relevant policy and regulatory responses. From these analyses, it is argued that the superficially simple categorisation into values-based and interests-based arguments conceals a great deal of complexity but also reveals important features about each case studied. The dynamics of each case varies with predominantly interests-based arguments in biobanks, values-based arguments in stem cell research and values-based arguments conflicting with interests-based arguments in the case of cloned animals. These data imply that each application of genomics should be examined in its specific context.

This thesis contributes to a theoretical understanding of disputes by applying a values-interests approach to a range of different contexts, demonstrating that the approach has merit in terms of conceptualising the main features of potentially contested situations. This thesis provides evidence that further examination of arguments identifies three different categories of values-based arguments and threeaspects of interests-based arguments. This conclusion points to an increased role for careful examination of arguments with a view to clarifying assumptions about the nature of the issues at stake to enable more discriminating policy responses.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions