Nanotechnologies: Where should they take us? Have your say

How do people get the information to form their own opinion on nanotechnologies?

NanOpinion project

How do people get the information to form their own opinion on nanotechnologies?

Fri, 31 Jan 2014

By Ilse Marschalek, ZSI

 Along with our activities in the streets, the NanOpinion project launched its first participatory workshops! We invited people who visited one of our outreach events and who were interested in more in-depth discussions around nanotechnologies and their societal impact.

Our first workshop in Perugia, Italy, was part of a local food and culture festival. We invited people who visited one of our streetlabs or a monitoring station and who were interested in more in-depth discussions around nanotechnologies and their societal impact. On Sunday afternoon eight participants, from 26 to 65 years old, discussed pros and cons of nanotechnologies. Participants highlighted that the workshop itself could not be understood as either in favour of or against nanotechnologies, which absolutely underlines our approach of providing balanced information and having a neutral attitude. 

Asked which media are most important to get information on nano, participants ranked the internet and TV highest, but also criticized TV as being too general, and the difficulties on the internet in distinguishing facts from opinions.  Although science magazines were seen as the most reliable source for information, participants admitted that they would not read them. This suggests a reliable internet platform providing serious information and multimedia materials in simple languages is required. The NanOpinion portal tries to meet these requirements.

In the same workshop it was concluded that most of the people would like more information on safety and health and that the people who are the most important to discuss scientific issues are family members and close friends.

Another workshop in Estremoz, Portugal, recruited ten participants from 23 to 40 years old. This group highlighted the internet and science magazines as main media as well. The environment was seen as the most relevant topic.

Arguments used in the discussions were mostly based on news participants had come across. But workshop participants were also willing to change their opinion after debate within the group. In general, the participants did not have extreme or radical opinions - they were able to position themselves between pros and cons. Different products and applications also caused different opinions, so participants did not show a rigid attitude toward nanotechnologies in general.

The family and also close friends were again mentioned as being the most important people to discuss scientific issues with, but for overall discussion input from specialists would be needed as well.

We’ve also run one workshop in Czech Republic, and others will follow. If you are interested in participating, just watch out for one near where you are. Find all upcoming events at


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About nanopinion

  • nanopinion is an EC-funded project bringing together 17 partners from 11 countries with the aim of monitoring public opinion on what we hope from innovation with nanotechnologies. The project is aimed citizens with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who do not normally encounter and give their opinion nanotechnologies at first hand.
  • Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats.
  • To promote an informed debate, we also run a strong press & social media campaign and offer a repository with more than 150 resources.
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