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Learning about, and making sense of, nuclear fusion as an energy technology: the roles of materiality, different kinds of knowledge, and practical reasoning

Horlick-Jones, Thomas Edward, Prades, Ana, Oltra, C. and Espluga, J. 2008. Learning about, and making sense of, nuclear fusion as an energy technology: the roles of materiality, different kinds of knowledge, and practical reasoning. Presented at: Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 7-10 December 2008.

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Abstract

This paper sets the scene for the symposium, by addressing a number of themes that will be addressed in the following presentations. It does so by drawing upon comparative UK/Spanish work on lay understanding of nuclear fusion. Levels of awareness and knowledge about fusion among the lay public are very low. In order to investigate how people make sense of fusion, and their views on fusion as a potential energy source, a hybrid social research/problem structuring/citizen engagement methodology has been adopted, allowing a range of lay respondents to participate in a sensitisation, learning and deliberative process. Importantly, the method has concentrated on the use of ordinary language, and the elicitation of patterns of demotic practical reasoning using multiple forms of knowledge, rather than pre-framing the issues exclusively in terms of technical categories. In this way, groups of citizens have engaged in discussion and deliberation about issues concerning fusion in quasi-naturalistic ways. The paper will present research findings to date concerning lay interrogation of knowledge about fusion; the relationship between levels of knowledge and modes of reasoning; and the ways in which the entwining of the social and material characters of the technology shapes the ways in which sense-making is practically accomplished.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2017 02:33
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/22192

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