Resource Extraction Technologies: Is a More Responsible Path of Development Possible?

In: Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
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Technologies impact societies in manifold and often unforeseen ways. In several fields of technology (e.g. nanotechnology, biotechnology) it has been argued that reflexive modes of technology development are appropriate to deal with this challenge. A central aim of reflexive modes is the integration of broader societal perspectives early in technology development processes in order to achieve a more (societal) responsible way of technology development. Whereas social scientific accounts on mining and resource extraction emphasize topics like corporate social responsibility, occupational safety, or distributive justice, little light is shed on the possibility of more reflexive modes that integrate societal perspectives early on in the development of resource extraction technologies. These technologies decisively influence social life worlds. Within this article we will shed light on mining technologies, and discuss the relevance of early integration of societal concerns into their development. We argue that an early integration of these concerns can help to shape new technologies in societally responsible ways, and by so doing, to deal with globally increasing opposition to resource extraction operations. To underline this argument, the article delineates four major challenges connected to technology development and application in the domain of resource extraction: the identification of the problems’ locus, knowledge integration, the consideration of non-knowledge, and the reflection of manifold roles that actors have in technology development contexts. The article concludes with future research challenges for technology development in the domain of resource extraction.

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