Tomiko Yamaguchi, International Christian University, Tokyo
Tomiko Yamaguchi specializes in the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of agriculture and food, and science and technology studies. She has worked on a range of research projects examining the ways in which social reality is constructed in situations involving conflict and controversy; her primary focus has been the ways in which scientific knowledge is interpreted, reaffirmed, and altered in day-to-day interactions between stakeholders attempting to exert influence in a situation, and how and why dominant interpretations give power to some stakeholders and not others. She has examined social conflicts concerning GM cotton in India, nutritionally enhanced GMOs, BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy), nanotechnology in food, and functional foods. She is currently working on food safety/risk debates with respect to radioactive nuclides.
Scientification and Social Control: Radiation Contamination in Food and Farms in Japan
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s already-difficult problem of food self-sufficiency has been exacerbated by the contamination of a region that was crucial to Japanese agriculture and by the perceived threat of radiation contamination in food. The government pursues various strategies to contain the social fallout and persuade the public that its fears of ionized radiation in food are unfounded. Yet, despite incontrovertible evidence of widespread concern about the issue, overt public protests are rarely heard. This paper asks why the public is not more vocal, and sheds light on political and social factors that tend to suppress the expression of concerns about food safety. The data is drawn from in-depth interviews with farmers and consumers in Fukushima and participant observations in public forums. The study indicates that various methods of social control form part of a phenomenon the author calls “the scientification of food and agriculture.”
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