Paul F. Lazarsfeld was a Viennese-born American mathematician, psychologist, and sociologist who immigrated to the United States in 1933. In Vienna he had established an applied social research center, which became a model for others in the United States; the most famous product of the Vienna center is Marienthal (1933) a pioneering study of unemployment in an Austrian village. In the United States, Lazarsfeld became director of a Rockefeller Foundation-supported study of the impact of radio; through this study, communications research was established as a field of social science inquiry. In 1937 Lazarsfeld founded a research center, which became the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University; he taught at Columbia from 1940 until 1969. Lazarsfeld's research areas included mass communications, voting, latent structure analysis, mathematical models, the history of quantitative research, and the analysis of survey data. His major goal was to find intellectual convergences between the social sciences and the humanities, between concept formation and index construction, and between quantitative and qualitative research. His enthusiasm and originality had an enormous impact on colleagues and students; an annual evening lecture and reception at Columbia provided an opportunity for them to share both vivid memories and current experiences.
The book offers a set of distinctive analyses of media and cultural texts – including press and television news, Hollywood and independent film drama, documentaries, art exhibits and websites – and in dialogue with the producers and consumers of these texts. From these investigations, key issues are foregrounded: the image of the scientist, scientific expertise and institutions; the governance of science; the representation of women’s bodies as the subjects and objects of biotechnology; and the constitution of publics, both as objects of media debate, and as their intended audience.
This examination demonstrates the importance of mediation, media institutions, and media texts in the production of scientific knowledge. Countering models that see ‘the media’ as simply a channel through which scientific knowledge passes, this book will emphasise the importance of communications technologies in the production of modern scientific knowledge and their particular significance in contemporary genomics. It will argue that human genomic science – and cloning as its current iconic manifestation – has to be understood as a complex cultural production.