Controversy: Politics of Technical Desisions

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SAGE Publications, 1984 - Political Science - 280 pages
One way to analyze the political values and beliefs that underlie decisions about science and technology is through the study of controversies, since it is during the course of disputes that vital concerns and hidden assumptions are clearly revealed.

Details of controversies can illustrate the reasoning and motivation behind public agencies, government officials, scientists and protest groups. They provide an understanding of science and technology policy, its social and political context and its public impact. They can also highlight social contradictions inherent in many decisions about science and technology, and the problems of developing public policies. In the second edition, the case material, originally written in 1

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Contents

Preface
7
Efficiency Versus Equity
25
Benefits Versus Risks
89
Copyright

7 other sections not shown

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About the author (1984)

A sociologist, science policy researcher, and teacher, Dorothy Nelkin has been a faculty member of Cornell University for most of her career. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she worked as a senior research associate in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Cornell University from 1969 to 1972. Her first book, Migrant: Farm Workers in America's Northwest (1971), reflects her interest in the process of social and science policy making. Nelkin's subsequent books present case studies of the various factors that affect governmental decision making and policy development. She has focused on the dynamics of controversy, the role of citizen's groups, the press, and governmental or legal authorities in most of her studies. Nelkin was involved personally in a science-related social controversy, when a power company proposed building a nuclear power plant on Cayuga Lake. She has moved on to wider-ranging controversies related to governmental housing, weapons research at MIT, methadone maintenance, textbooks and the creation-evolution debate, use of biological tests, the antinuclear movement in France and Germany, and AIDS. Two of her books, Science as Intellectual Property (1983) and Selling Science (1988), examine scientific information - who owns it, who controls it, and how it is presented to the public. Perhaps her most well-known book, Controversy: Politics of Technical Decisions, presents a diverse collection of case studies, especially valuable for classroom use. In 1992, the book appeared in its third revised edition. Nelkin's prolific writing career has been supported by grants, as well as by visiting scholar and consultant positions. She has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation, National Science Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. She has held visiting scholar appointments at Resources for the Future, Hastings Institute, and at research institutes in Berlin and Paris. Nelkin was an adviser for the Office of Technology Assessment and is a member of the National Advisory Council to the National Institutes of Health Human Genome Project. She also is a member and serves on the boards of directors of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, Medicine in the Public Interest, and Society for the Social Studies of Science. After her initial appointment in Cornell's Science, Technology, Society Program, Nelkin became professor of sociology at Cornell from 1972 to 1989 and is now professor of sociology and affiliate professor of law at New York University. Nelkin is best known for establishing the case study method in interdisciplinary science/technology/society studies.

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