This article draws on the idea of the ‘forensic imaginary’ (Williams 2010) to explore UK public perspectives on the place, role and significance of forensic DNA technologies, both independent of and in relation to other genetic applications. Using correspondents’ replies to the Spring 2006 Mass Observation Directive ‘Genes, Genetics and Cloning’, the analysis focuses on continuities and tensions in their discursive repertoires. The argument examines (a) the ways in which knowledge is made sense of in these accounts, and (b) the discrepancy between an appreciation of the benefits of using DNA identification techniques in police work and a more critical attitude towards a wider national DNA database. The conclusion reflects on the need for a wider scope in research on public understandings of science, which looks beyond targeted consultations and specific publics, and provides more textured data to document collective views on the development and governance of forensic DNA technologies.
- Mass observation
- forensic DNA technologies