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Inside or Out? Open or Closed? Positioning the Governance of Sustainable Technology

For good or ill, technology mediates our relationships with one another and with nature. Whether an ox-drawn plough in the hands of a peasant, or remote sensing equipment feeding back data from a satellite, technology informs and shapes our place in our environments. It is therefore unsurprising that technological development occupies a central position in debates about governance for sustainability. Yet a curious tension exists in the literature on the governance of sustainable technologies; one that this paper will highlight and discuss. On the one hand, analysts recognise technology development as a highly social activity (thus opening possibilities for deliberate steering). On the other hand, policy debates treat steering itself as relatively asocial, (thus understating the roles and potentials for negotiation, deliberation and participation). In this paper we consider how this tension relates to the conceptual positioning of governance in relation to technology - whether 'inside' or 'outside', 'open' or 'closed' - and draw practical implications for steering.

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Paper provided by SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex in its series SPRU Working Paper Series with number 148.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 11 Apr 2006
Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:148
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