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The instrumental use of technical doubts: technological controversies, investment decisions and air pollution controls in the global shipping industry

Bloor, Michael John, Sampson, Helen, Baker, Susan Catherine and Dahlgren, Katrin 2014. The instrumental use of technical doubts: technological controversies, investment decisions and air pollution controls in the global shipping industry. Science and Public Policy 41 (2) , pp. 234-244. 10.1093/scipol/sct050

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Abstract

In principle, the installation of emissions abatement technology (otherwise known as scrubbers) on ships would reduce air pollution and premature deaths from disease and allow vessels to save costs by continuing to burn cheap high-sulphur residual fuel oil. But very few scrubbers have been installed. A recent House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry was unable to decide between the competing technical claims of scrubber manufacturers and ship operators, over whether scrubber technology was sufficiently 'mature' for present installation. From the perspective of science and technology studies, this paper draws on interviews with stakeholders and written and oral evidence to the committee to argue that this was a dispute which foregrounded technical arguments for investment decisions that were actually being made on economic grounds. Where scientific/technical closure is a matter of communal understanding rather than technical demonstration, technical doubt can be used instrumentally for economic reasons to delay closure.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0302-3427
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 02:43
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/52715

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