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Deliberate futures: precaution and progress in social choice of sustainable technology

  • Andy Stirling

    (SPRU, University of Sussex, UK)

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    There is much high profile concern over apparent tensions between sustainability and precaution on the one hand, and 'competitive innovation' and 'technological progress' on the other. How can we balance risk with opportunity and public engagement with 'sound science'? The outcomes of such debates may undoubtedly be serious for particular technologies, but are there really grounds for concern over the implications for innovation in general? This paper argues that such anxieties often stem from impoverished understandings and strategic misrepresentations of the real nature of scientific creativity and technological possibilities. This can obscure possibilities for achieving more truly sustainable and socially deliberate technological futures. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.347
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 286-295

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:15:y:2007:i:5:p:286-295
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1099-1719

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    1. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
    2. Smith, Adrian & Stirling, Andy & Berkhout, Frans, 2005. "The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1491-1510, December.
    3. Mokyr, Joel, 1992. "The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195074772, March.
    4. Walker, William, 2000. "Entrapment in large technology systems: institutional commitment and power relations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(7-8), pages 833-846, August.
    5. Williams, Robin & Edge, David, 1996. "The social shaping of technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 865-899, September.
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