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

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrian Smith & Andy Stirling, 2006. "Inside or Out? Open or Closed? Positioning the Governance of Sustainable Technology," SPRU Working Paper Series 148, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:148
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    File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/sewp_148.pdf
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    Keywords

    environment; governance; sustainability; technological development;

    JEL classification:

    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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