National Knowledge and Research Center for Emergency Readiness - Wynne (2002). Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out?

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Wynne (2002). Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out?

Bibliographic details:

Wynne, B. (2002). Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out?. Current sociology, 50(3), 459-477.‏

Abstract:

Risk and environmental discourses have usually been regarded as critical, in the sense that they are the substantive focus of critical reflexive processes discussed under the rubric of the risk society, reflexive modernization and other theories of late-modern cultural politics and change. The forces of power which shape new technological trajectories have encountered some of their most effective criticism in the form of environmental risk critique and feminist critique. However, even environmental risk discourses have been fundamentally shaped by an assumption that any uncertainties which risk assessments might show will be resolvable by more science. The basic discourse of modern science and technology policy - that even if predictive control is not yet fully in our grasp, it soon will be - is not challenged by the cultural focus on risk. Indeed, the recent emphasis on rendering risk and regulatory science more accountable, inclusive and transparent actually diverts attention from the more difficult upstream arena of rendering innovation-oriented science more democratically accountable. In key respects, prevailing risk and environmental discourses can be seen to act by default as covers, and thus legitimators, of existing privileged forces driving technological innovation trajectories.

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