Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy

Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy

by Michel Callon, Pierre Lascoumes, Yannick Barthe
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262515962

ISBN-13: 9780262515962

Pub. Date: 01/31/2011

Publisher: MIT Press

Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns. The authors of Acting in an Uncertain
World
argue that political institutions must be

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Overview

Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns. The authors of Acting in an Uncertain
World
argue that political institutions must be expanded and improved to manage these controversies, to transform them into productive conversations, and to bring about "technical democracy." They show how "hybrid forums"
-- in which experts, non-experts, ordinary citizens, and politicians come together
-- reveal the limits of traditional delegative democracies, in which decisions are made by quasi-professional politicians and techno-scientific information is the domain of specialists in laboratories. The division between professionals and laypeople, the authors claim, is simply outmoded. The authors argue that laboratory research should be complemented by everyday experimentation pursued in the real world, and they describe various modes of cooperation between the two. They explore a range of concrete examples of hybrid forums that have dealt with sociotechnical controversies including nuclear waste disposal in France, industrial waste and birth defects in Japan, a childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, and mad cow disease in the United Kingdom. The authors discuss the implications for political decision making in general and describe a "dialogic" democracy that enriches traditional representative democracy. To invent new procedures for consultation and representation, they suggest, is to contribute to an endless process that is necessary for the ongoing democratization of democracy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262515962
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
01/31/2011
Series:
Inside Technology
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
993,255
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Hybrid Forums 13

2 Secluded Research 37

3 There's Always Someone More Specialist 71

4 In Search of a Common World 107

5 The Organization of Hybrid Forums 153

6 Measured Action, or How to Decide without Making a Definitive Decision 191

7 The Democratization of Democracy 225

Epilogue 255

Notes 267

Index 279

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