Morally Contentious Technology-Field Intersections: The Case of Biotechnology in the United States
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Technologies can be not only contentious—overthrowing existing ways of doing things—but also morally contentious—forcing deep reflection on personal values and societal norms. This article investigates that what may impede the acceptance of a technology and/or the development of the field that supports or exploits it, the lines between which often become blurred in the face of morally contentious content. Using a unique dataset with historically important timing—the United States Biotechnology Study fielded just 9 months after the public announcement of the successful cloning of the first mammal (i.e., Dolly the sheep)—we find that microlevel factors (i.e., conservative Christianity) predict unfavorable judgments of the technology-field intersection while macrolevel representations [i.e., exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines and media coverage] predict more favorable judgments.