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Nyttiga bakterier och sjuka djur: En technoscience-resa från nätverksbildning till riskkonstruktion
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the dissertation is to examine the mechanisms at work when networks are formed and risk constructions made as bodies encounter frontline technology within the food sector. The concept of technoscience TS, is the link uniting the escalating technology of risk society, rebellious nature and the insidious threats of substances absorbed straight into the metabolism of our bodies through the food that we eat. The TS viewpoint is complemented by a short overview of Beck’s theory about the risk society, in order to explain how research creates risks rather than removing them.

The four case studies are all concrete manifestations of technoscience. They are: 1) a study of the alliance between a research company and a bacteria culture, 2) the section about the Gaio controversy and the creation of scientific facts, 3) the case of the scientist and high-ranking official who was sued for defamation of the Danish pig, 4) and finally the scandal of the meat-eating cows.

We can observe, aided by Bruno Latour, how particularly in the first two stories, the importance of networks becomes apparent. How network analysis can be a tool for understanding the high-tech development of the food industry in the late 20th century as stories of how scientific claims – or “truths” – are reconstituted and transformed. We are also able to observe how truth is dependent on our own viewpoint, in Donna Haraway’s word it is “situated” or context dependent.

The case studies are also examples of the links between body, technology and risk. Because they deal with the food product trade, the link to the body becomes obvious as dangerous food products are absorbed into the body through the food and is spread through the metabolism. The thing that sets risk construction in the use of high-tech production methods in the food trade apart from other areas is the meeting or confrontation between the man-made advanced technology and the limits determined by “nature” through the body. The linking of technology and the human body becomes particularly exciting as we notice that no matter how advanced the technology that has been used to produce a food product, it is still there to be eaten and absorbed by the metabolism of our bodies. In this area of uncertainty the dividing line between the possible and the impossible is fuzzy and changing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2005. , 344 p.
Stockholm Studies in Economic History, ISSN 0346-8305 ; 46
Keyword [en]
tehnoscience, hybrid, cyborg, risk, network, ANT, actant, pig, cow, bacteria, situated, nature, construction of nature, body, transgression, construction of scientific facts, truth, scientific process, knowledge production, risk construction, biotechnology, functional foods, food sector, high technology, alliances, innovation
National Category
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-716ISBN: 91-85445-16-9OAI: diva2:197744
Public defence
2005-12-02, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2005-10-28 Created: 2005-10-28 Last updated: 2012-07-05Bibliographically approved

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