Title page for ETD etd-10042010-225927

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Morris, Jeffery Thomas
Author's Email Address morrisjt@vt.edu
URN etd-10042010-225927
Title Risk, Language, and Power: The Nanotechnology Environmental Policy Case
Degree PhD
Department Science and Technology Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Allen, Barbara L. Committee Chair
Halfon, Saul E. Committee Member
Hull, Robert Bruce IV Committee Member
Patzig, Eileen Crist Committee Member
  • chemical regime
  • nanomaterial
  • story line
  • discourse analysis
Date of Defense 2010-10-01
Availability unrestricted
In this dissertation I explore discourse around the environmental risks of nanotechnology, and through this study of nanotechnology make the case that the dominance in risk discourse of regulatory science is limiting policy debate on environmental risks, and that specific initiatives should be undertaken to broaden debate not just on nanotechnology, but generally on the risks of new technologies. I argue that the treatment of environmental risk in public policy debates has failed for industrial chemicals, is failing for nanotechnology, and most certainly will fail for synthetic biology and other new technologies unless we change how we describe the impacts to people and other living things from the development and deployment of technology. However, I also contend that the nanotechnology case provides reason for optimism that risk can be given different, and better, treatment in environmental policy debates. I propose specific policy initiatives to advance a richer discourse around the environmental implications of emerging technologies. Evidence of enriched environmental policy debates would be a decentering of language concerning risk by developing within discourse language and practice directed toward enriching the human and environmental condition.
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