SCHUMANN, Simone: Citizens’ Encounters with “Nanofood” in the Austrian Context. Investigating Individual and Collective Appropriation Work.


Over recent years, nanotechnology is regarded as a new and promising technoscientific area that is crossing a broad range of disciplines as well as diverse fields of application. The application area of food is, in this regard, a particularly interesting case, since it is linked with so many different social worlds and contexts. This complexity provides rich analytical possibilities, such as questions concerning the mutual relations of technology and culture as well as the connection between nano, a highly technoscientific and unfamiliar field and food, representing a deeply culturally and historically established everyday product/practice.

Nanotechnology is among the latest players entering the Austrian food domain. At the moment neither the notion of “nanofood” is widely known, nor is there any controversial debate in the Austrian context. This offers the unique opportunity for me to study how members of the public encounter the use of nanotechnology within food and food related products at an early stage, when established public discourses, leading political ideas or controversies haven’t already framed their imaginations. Hence the aim of this PhD project is to investigate people’s appropriation processes of nanofood – be they more individual or more collective – “in the making”. Based primarily on a detailed qualitative analysis of group discussions I seek to understand how they make sense of this new phenomenon in order to discuss and position themselves without being necessarily educated or informed before.