NanoEthics 8 (2):121-140 (2014)

This interdisciplinary, social scientific analysis of the regulatory discourse on nanotechnology in the three German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and in the EU between 2000 and 2013 has shown three distinct phases, characterised by shifts in the configuration of actors and in the thematic scope from nanotechnology to nano-materials. Compared to modes of governance based on traditional statutory law, modes of governance based on less binding forms of soft law and self-regulation (like codes of conduct, guidelines and certification systems) and new modes of governance (like assessment studies, risk management frameworks as well as participatory and cooperative forms of communication and negotiation) have gained importance. Despite some similarities, two different cultures in governing nanotechnology can be distinguished: a product-oriented culture in statutory regulations (when speaking about products, the article is also referring to substances) and a risk-based culture in applying soft law based on new modes of governance. In addition, the different regulatory cultures have led to four strategic approaches: modes of governance mainly based on hard law and soft law at the EU level, modes of governance mainly based on cooperative and self-regulatory approaches in Germany, cooperative governance approaches in Austria and modes of governance mainly based on self-regulatory and soft law approaches in Switzerland
Keywords Nanotechnology  Regulatory culture  Governance  Austria  Germany  Switzerland  EU
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DOI 10.1007/s11569-014-0200-3
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