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Journal Articles Science Technology and Society Year : 2022

Technical Problematisation: A Democratic Way to Deal with Contested Projects?

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Abstract

A strong social and technical divide is particularly visible in the predominant understanding of technological innovation in modern societies. The field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) aims to overcome this divide, by focusing on the continuously entwined relationships between the social and the technical, that is, sociotechnical combinations. In this article, we argue that while it is reasonable to state that the social and the technical are entangled, it should be acknowledged that some issues are dealt with solutions that are more technical than others. A technical problematisation (the definition of an issue as a problem that is treated via a technical solution) is different to a social problematisation (the definition of an issue as a problem that is treated via a social solution) of the same issue. Our discussion is built upon examples from nuclear waste management, where the social–technical divide has been strong. However, more recently there has been a push for more democracy in technical decision making in this area, with much experimentation on public participation taking place. The only way these activities will successfully support such a democratising process is for them to be integrated into a renewed and explicitly acknowledged technical problematisation of proposed solutions.
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Dates and versions

hal-03457831 , version 1 (03-01-2022)

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Yannick Barthe, Morgan Meyer, Göran Sundqvist. Technical Problematisation: A Democratic Way to Deal with Contested Projects?. Science Technology and Society, 2022, 27 (1), pp.7-22. ⟨10.1177/0971721821995584⟩. ⟨hal-03457831⟩
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