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Undone ScienceSocial Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions$
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David J. Hess

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035132

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035132.001.0001

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The Epistemic Dimension of the Political Opportunity Structure

The Epistemic Dimension of the Political Opportunity Structure

(p.47) 2 The Epistemic Dimension of the Political Opportunity Structure
Undone Science

David J. Hess

The MIT Press

The concept of the political opportunity structure from social movement studies has undergone various expansions, including the development of a theory of the industry opportunity structure in social movement studies and of the intellectual opportunity structure in science and technology studies. The chapter then discusses how the theory of the political opportunity structure can be further developed through systematic consideration of its epistemic dimension. This dimension has two pairs of basic features: the level of scientization (the use of technical decision-making criteria) and the extent of public participation in the policy process, and the epistemic culture of risk evaluation (the preference of government regulators for narrow or inclusive methods) and the degree of precautionary preference when making decisions in situations of uncertain evidence. The framework is applied to cases of colony collapse disorder, the regulation of genetically modified food, nanotechnology, the smart meter movement, and climate science denialism.

Keywords:   political opportunity structure, industry opportunity structure, social movement, scientization, public participation, precautionary principle, colony collapse disorder, genetically modified food, nanotechnology, smart meters

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