Risk and Regulation

My first STS research project, on the regulation of cancer-causing chemicals in three European countries and the United States (Controlling Chemicals), demonstrated that different political cultures mobilize different persuasive resources in order to rationalize decisions based on incomplete and contested knowledge. For example, formal models and quantitative measures were more widely used in U.S. risk regulation than in Europe in the late twentieth century. More recently, my work has shown how unexamined social and cultural preferences. Including principles of delegation, are incorporated into policy analytic methods, and how they thereby become invisible, apolitical, and taken for granted. These findings suggest that formal analysis should be used with caution, with attention to consequences that such methods tend to exclude. That point was featured in my widely anthologized article, “Technologies of Humility.” Key papers include:

  • Risk in Hindsight: Constructing a Politics of Resilience,” in I. Richter, S. Berking, and R. Müller-Schmid, eds., Risk Society and the Culture of Precaution (London: Macmillan, 2006), pp. 28-46; adapted and reprinted as “Beyond Calculation: A Democratic Response to Risk,” in A. Lakoff, ed., Disaster and the Politics of Intervention (New York: SSRC/Columbia University Press, 2009).
  • Technologies of Humility: Citizen Participation in Governing Science,” Minerva 41:223-244 (2003); reprinted in B. Nerlich, R. Elliott, and B. Larson, eds., Communicating Biological Sciences: Ethical and Metaphorical Dimensions (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 29-47; A. Bogner and H. Torgersen, eds., Wozu Experten? Ambivalenzen der Beziehung von Wissenschaft und Politik (Wiesbaden: Verlag fur Sozialwissenschaften, 2005), pp. 370-389; adapted and reprinted in C. Mitcham, ed., Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics (New York: Macmillan Reference, 2005), pp. xix-xxvi.
  • The Songlines of Risk,” Environmental Values 8:135-152 (1999).
  • Science, Politics, and the Renegotiation of Expertise at EPA,” Osiris 7:195-217 (1992)