In 2008 the Korean government decided to resume importing US beef, leading to a nationwide controversy over the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Korean media coverage of BSE during this controversy demonstrates how media reporting on scientific matters interacts with political controversy over science-related risks. In Korea, where media organizations tend to be associated with particular political ideologies, the media emphasized the uncertainty of scientific accounts in the BSE case and reinforced the politicization of science by selectively mobilizing contrasting scientific claims and scientific authorities based on each media outlet's political position. The distinctive role of such a media culture in the science-related political discourse is further highlighted when we consider US media coverage of BSE risk during the same period: in that coverage, the baseline technical risk-related issues were taken for granted and the BSE controversy in Korea was presented largely as a trade issue.
Media Cultures and the Representation of Science in Korea and the United States: The BSE Case in 2008
Hee-Je Bak is a professor in the Department of Sociology and the director of the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Kyung Hee University, Korea. His main research interests include public understanding of science, social controversies over technological and environmental risks, and the structural transformation of universities. His recent publications can be found in the journals Science and Public Policy, Research in Higher Education, and East Asian Science, Technology and Society.
Daniel Lee Kleinman is associate provost for graduate affairs and a professor of sociology at Boston University. Before coming to BU in January 2017, Kleinman was a senior associate dean and a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Kleinman has authored numerous papers and books. His most recent book, with Sainath Suryanarayanan, is Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics, and Honey Bee Health (Rutgers, 2017). In 2012, Kleinman was an international scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.
Hee-Je Bak, Daniel Lee Kleinman; Media Cultures and the Representation of Science in Korea and the United States: The BSE Case in 2008. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 September 2017; 11 (3): 331–352. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3827229
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