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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

The Politics of Bioterrorism

This research programme examines what can loosely be termed 'the politics of bioterrorism' and the policies and policy networks developing around biosecurity.

It is an empirical investigation into current concerns about biosecurity in the Anglo-American context, exploring how groups of individuals and institutions are seeking to forward specific definitions and characterisations, how claims are being justified, and what the implications of these claims are for determining what needs to be done.

The programme explores the politics of bioterrorism by placing it in the context of how biothreats are constituted. It treats biothreats as a social problem and focuses attention on the contingent processes whereby risks are identified, strategies developed, proposals tabled, and choices made about appropriate action.

The key questions considered are:

  • How have biothreats been framed in the policy discourse since 9/11, and how does this relate to earlier framings?
  • What forms of knowledge, authority and expertise are deployed or contested by different groups?
  • What evidence is drawn upon in the evaluation of biothreats?
  • What are the 'technologies of intervention' proposed, and what are their political, economic and social implications?

It is by understanding biothreats in their social context that we are better able to see how we can reshape our thinking about the threats, and provide alternative policy options for responding to them.