Rationality and Ritual
Participation and Exclusion in Nuclear Decision-making, 2nd Edition
By Brian Wynne
Foreword by Gordon MacKerron
Routledge – 2010 – 256 pages
In Rationality and Ritual, internationally renowned expert Brian Wynne offers a profound analysis of science and technology policymaking. By focusing on an episode of major importance in Britain's nuclear history – the Windscale Inquiry, a public hearing about the future of fuel reprocessing – he offers a powerful critique of such judicial procedures and the underlying assumptions of the rationalist approach.
This second edition makes available again this classic and still very relevant work. Debates about nuclear power have come to the fore once again. Yet we still do not have adequate ways to make decisions or frame policy deliberation on these big issues, involving true public debate, rather than ritualistic processes in which the rules and scope of the debate are presumed and imposed by those in authority. The perspectives in this book are as significant and original as they were when it was written.
The new edition contains a substantial introduction by the author reflecting on changes (and lack of) in the intervening years and introducing new themes, relevant to today's world of big science and technology, that can be drawn out of the original text. A new foreword by Gordon MacKerron, an expert on energy and nuclear policy, sets this seminal work in the context of contemporary nuclear and related big technology debates.
'Profound and stimulating…a brilliant analysis' – Dr Alvin Weinberg, former Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Physics Division
'A wonderful, original and still-timely book. Very sensitively and powerfully, Wynne shows how authentic progress is compromised and crippled, effectively by 'rational' pre-emption of authentic debate.' – Professor Ulrich Beck, University of Munich , Germany
'A profound and lasting challenge to conventional academic as well as policy wisdom on scientific rationality and the politics of technology.' – Professor Andrew Feenberg, Simon Fraser University, Canada
'Raises questions far beyond its specific subject matter and will be an important reference point for future work in the area.' – Nature
'A book rich in insight.' – British Journal of History of Science
'A splendid example of how social science analysis … can inform our understanding of science and technology policy making.' – Isis
'A detailed scholarly study… This book should prove particularly valuable for students of comparative regulatory process who are looking for informed discussions of non-US regulatory systems.' – Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
'The revival of official commitment to nuclear power alone makes a re-reading of 'Rationality and Ritual' an important contribution to understanding the issues. But while Brian Wynne's book is based empirically on nuclear power as a particularly powerful exemplar, it has wider resonance in its deep dissection of the moral, political and cultural issues that the relationship between scientific expertise and political process - more recently in debates about genetics and biotechnology - involves. The book was a pioneering study in its depth and capacity to illuminate. It remains so to this day.' – From the Foreword by Gordon MacKerron, Director of SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), University of Sussex and former Chair of CoRWM (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management)
'One thing is certain: there are few occasions in which such a concentration of high-powered legal advocates have enjoyed debate. By any standard the cast is impressive…Even at their best however they have not outshone some of the lay advocates, such as Dr Brian Wynne, for Network for Nuclear Concern…' – From the article, 'At Windscale, the amateurs shine in the battle of the legal giants' in the Times, 28th October 1977
Foreword by Gordon MacKerron Rationality and Ritual: A Quarter-Century Retrospect Preface to Original Edition Introduction The Decision-making Legacy Oxide Reprocessing: The Background The Public Inquiry Tradition: A Comparative Perspective The Emergence of THORP from a Private to a Public Issue The Process and Impact of the Inquiry Judicial Rationality, Expert Conflict and Political Authority The Rationality and Politics of Analysis Conclusion
Brian Wynne is Professor of Science Studies, Associate Director of the ESRC Research Centre CESAGen at Lancaster University and recipient of the J.D. Bernal Prize, 2010. He was an Inaugural Member of the Management Board and Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency (EEA), and a Special Adviser to the 2000 House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry into Science and Society.