Vulnerability in Technological Cultures: New Directions in Research and Governance

Vulnerability in Technological Cultures: New Directions in Research and Governance

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Overview

Analysis and case studies explore the concept of vulnerability, offering a novel and broader approach to understanding the risks and benefits of science and technology.

Novel technologies and scientific advancements offer not only opportunities but risks. Technological systems are vulnerable to human error and technical malfunctioning that have far-reaching consequences: one flipped switch can cause a cascading power failure across a networked electric grid. Yet, once addressed, vulnerability accompanied by coping mechanisms may yield a more flexible and resilient society. This book investigates vulnerability, in both its negative and positive aspects, in technological cultures. The contributors argue that viewing risk in terms of vulnerability offers a novel approach to understanding the risks and benefits of science and technology. Such an approach broadens conventional risk analysis by connecting to issues of justice, solidarity, and livelihood, and enabling comparisons between the global north and south.

The book explores case studies that range from agricultural practices in India to neonatal intensive care medicine in Western hospitals; these cases, spanning the issues addressed in the book, illustrate what vulnerability is and does. The book offers conceptual frameworks for empirical description and analysis of vulnerability that elucidate its ambiguity, context dependence, and constructed nature. Finally, the book addresses the implications of these analyses for the governance of vulnerability, proposing a more reflexive way of dealing with vulnerability in technological cultures.

Contributors
Marjolein van Asselt, Martin Boeckhout, Wiebe Bijker, Tessa Fox, Stephen Healy, Anique Hommels, Sheila Jasanoff, Jozef Keulartz, Jessica Mesman, Ger Palmboom, C. Shambu Prasad, Julia Quartz, Johan M. Sanne, Maartje Schermer, Teesta Setelvad, Esha Shah, Andy Stirling, Imrat Verhoeven, Esther Versluis, Shiv Visvanathan, Gerard de Vries, Ger Wackers, Dick Willems

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262027106
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 03/21/2014
Series: Inside Technology
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Anique Hommels is Associate Professor at Maastricht University and author of Unbuilding Cities: Obduracy in Urban Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press).


Jessica Mesman is Associate Professor in the Department of Technology and Society Studies, Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, Netherlands.


Wiebe E. Bijker is Professor at Maastricht University and the author of Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press) and other books.


Wiebe E. Bijker is Professor at Maastricht University and the author of Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press) and other books.


Anique Hommels is Associate Professor at Maastricht University and author of Unbuilding Cities: Obduracy in Urban Sociotechnical Change (MIT Press).


Jessica Mesman is Associate Professor in the Department of Technology and Society Studies, Faculty of Arts and Culture, University of Maastricht, Netherlands.


Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States and other books and the coeditor of Earthly Politics: Local and Global in Environmental Governance (MIT Press, 2004).


Trevor Pinch is Goldwin Smith Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and coeditor of The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (anniversary edition, MIT Press).

Table of Contents

Contributing Authors vii

1 Studying Vulnerability in Technological Cultures Wiebe Bijker Anique Hommels Jessica Mesman 1

Part I Framing the Vulnerability Issue 27

2 Agricultural Change in a South Indian Village: An Account of the Multiplicity of Vulnerable Livelihoods Julia Quartz 33

3 Cultural Politics of Vulnerability: Historical-Ethnography of Dearth and Debt, and Farmers' Suicides in India Esha Shah 51

4 Relocation of Vulnerability in Neonatal Intensive Case Medicine Jessica Mesman 71

5 Vulnerability and Development-Bhopal's Lasting Legacy Sheila Jasanoff 89

6 Narratives of Vulnerability and Violence: Retelling the Gujarat Riots Shiv Visvanathan Teesta Setelvad 109

Part II Exploring the Ambiguity of Vulnerability 131

7 Creative Dissent: Linking Vulnerability and Knowledge in India C. Shambu Prasad 135

8 Resilience: Contingency, Complexity, and Practice Stephen Healy Jessica Mesman 155

9 Entrainment, Imagination, and Vulnerability-Lessons from Large-Scale Accidents in the Offshore Industry Ger Wackers 179

10 Vulnerable Practices: Organizing through Bricolage in Railroad Maintenance Johan M. Sanne 199

Part III The Governance of Vulnerability 217

11 Governing a Vulnerable Society: Toward a Precaution-Based Approach Gerard de Vries Imrat Verhoeven Martin Boeckhout 223

12 Regulating Risks by Rules: Compliance and Negotiated Drift in the Dutch Chemical Industry under the Seveso Regime Anique Hommels Esther Versluis Tessa Fox Marjolein van Asselt 243

13 Dealing with Vulnerability: Balancing Prevention with Resilience as a Method of Governance Ger Palmboom Dick Willems 267

14 A Pragmatist Approach to the Governance of Vulnerability Jozef Keulartz Maartje Schermer 285

15 From Sustainability to Transformation: Dynamics and Diversity in Reflexive Governance of Vulnerability Andy Stirling 305

References 333

Index 373

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