Challenges of Biomedicine: Socio-Cultural Contexts, European Governance and Bioethics (COB)

Duration: 04/2004 - 09/2007

Sponsors: European Commission, 6th Framework programme "Science and Society"

Project collaborators: Ulrike Felt; Maximilian Fochler; Ruth Müller; Peter Winkler


This project is to investigate the influence the European public and the biomedical science exert on each other. This bio-political relationship will be examined by analysing the variety of important concepts such as ‘identity’, ‘citizenship’, and ‘integrity of human body’ and to what extent biomedical science interacts with them. The significance of this interaction will be examined in two dimensions:

  • opportunities of participation and governance of medical science, and
  • Cultural plurality and diversity of public preferences towards biomedicine (esp. genetic testing and transplantation medicine).

The cross-cultural comparative investigations will be done in an interdisciplinary team from 8 different countries in Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern Europe. Empirical data of local lay people and patients attitudes towards participation and cultural aspects of biomedicine will be recorded by focus group discussions, interviews and ethnographic studies. The analysis is organised in four sub-projects:

  • The forms and processes of medicalisation and geneticisation in European countries.
  • The importance of ‘body’, ‘health’, ‘gender’ and ‘religion’ for the public acceptance of biomedicine and gene technology.
  • Ethical reflection on cultural diversity, governance and participation.
  •  The interference between public understanding of science and participation/governance in cultural contexts.

The synopsis of these sub-projects will clarify:

  • How governance of science and medico-ethical standards in Europe can be harmonised with cultural variety and multitude of preferences.
  • How and to what extent lay people and patients should participate in decision processes in health care and medical institutions.
  • The role the various actors, stake holders, lay people, scientists and policy makers could play in European governance of science and clinical research.
  • The results contain recommendations for policy makers and will be disseminated by public presentations and publications.



Project partners

Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of European Ethnology, Prof. Dr. Stefan Beck
University of Göttingen, Institute for Ethics and History of medicine, Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz

Clinical Genetics Dept. at the Archbishop Makarios III Medical Centre(MMC) Nicosia, Cyprus / National Ethics Committee of Cyprus, Dr. Violetta Anastasiadou

Groupe de recherche Information, Communication et propagandes, University of Nancy, Dr. Anne Masseran

Great Britain
Institute of Health Sciences and Public Health Research, University of Leeds, Prof. Dr. Darren Shickle

Dept. of Sociology, University of Latvia, Dr. Aivita Putnina

University of Utrecht, Department of Philosophy, Prof. Dr. Marcus Düwell

University of Lund, Dept. for Theology and Religious Study, Dr. Helena Röcklinsberg
University of Lund, Dept. of European Ethnology, Prof. Dr. Susanne Lundin