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See detail(Un)taming Citizen Science – Policies, Practices, People
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Van Hoyweghen, Ine

Scientific conference (2017, December 04)

We are presently witnessing a global explosion of citizen science initiatives covering a wide range of topics, from counting hummingbirds to actively researching new medical treatments, to the use of ... [more ▼]

We are presently witnessing a global explosion of citizen science initiatives covering a wide range of topics, from counting hummingbirds to actively researching new medical treatments, to the use of smartphones to measuring radioactivity in the environment. European policymakers and societal stakeholders hail citizen science as a means of (re)building trust in science, which may in turn lead to “more democratic research based on evidence and informed decision-making” and more responsible innovation (Sanz et al. 2014). Others see it as a means of enabling citizens to become researchers, advocates, or watchdogs of science, or to become their own sensors and create their own expertise and communities, distinct from established organizations and practices. In this workshop, we explore these and related issues through the notion of ‘(un)taming,’ which refers to the mutual adjustment of technology and the social, and links to ‘domestication’ and domestication theory in science and technology studies (Latour, 1987; Callon, 1986; Williams et al. 2004). It allows us to highlight how citizen science is incorporated into science and other subsystems of society through a wide array of interrelated and unconnected mechanisms, programs and procedures, such as research and development processes, the fabrication of new technologies and systems (e.g. DIY technologies), science policy making, educational activities, science journalism, and contemporary art forms, among others. As these processes elicit both support and controversy, they evoke several significant questions as to how citizen science is changing the confines of science and citizenship in contemporary society: Who and what is citizen science (not) for? How is citizen science tamed, and why? Which citizen science forms are amenable to taming, which forms are not? How is citizen science made public or politicized? How is it professionalized? How is it promoted, and to what effects? How do citizen scientists engage with the above questions? How will citizen science fare in the years ahead? [less ▲]

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See detailBeyond Consensus? A Reply to Alan Irwin
Van Bouwel, Jeroen; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

in Social Epistemology Review & Reply Collective (2017)

In this short reply to Alan Irwin, we zoom in on the three main issues he raises: 1. How to understand consensus? 2. Why are so many public participation activities consensus driven? 3. Should we not ... [more ▼]

In this short reply to Alan Irwin, we zoom in on the three main issues he raises: 1. How to understand consensus? 2. Why are so many public participation activities consensus driven? 3. Should we not value the art of closure? We also use this opportunity to highlight and further develop some of the ideas presented in our research paper "Participation Beyond Consensus? Technology Assessments, Consensus Conferences and Democratic Modulation." [less ▲]

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See detailAfter and Beyond Fukushima: Probing the Role and Potential of Citizen Science in Nuclear Science and Technology Governance in Japan and Belgium
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Yoshizawa, Go

Scientific conference (2017, August 18)

In this presentation, we discuss the role of citizen science in the governance of nuclear incidents/accidents in emergency preparedness, response and post-disaster recovery. Starting from the 2011 ... [more ▼]

In this presentation, we discuss the role of citizen science in the governance of nuclear incidents/accidents in emergency preparedness, response and post-disaster recovery. Starting from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, we (1) trace the expansion of citizen science in the nuclear field to other countries and contexts; (2) ask how citizen-science concepts, methods, and toolsets challenge institutional approaches to preparedness and response to nuclear incidents/accidents and post-disaster situations; and how nuclear safety authorities respond to such challenges; (3) probe the possibilities of incorporating citizen-science concepts and practices into Belgian and European approaches to nuclear emergency response, preparedness, and recovery. Our research draws on qualitative methods in Interpretive Policy Analysis and Science and Technology Studies to highlight the contentious politics that characterize interactions between citizen scientists and nuclear authorities in Japan and other countries. It anticipates the emergence of hybrid citizen-science forms, comprising material artifacts (e.g. new radioactivity measurement devices) and discourses (e.g. on the role of science in society), which simultaneously challenge and accommodate institutional approaches to nuclear emergency preparedness and response. By comparing citizen-science initiatives in Japan and Belgium, the project sheds light on citizen science as an emerging pattern of governance and probes its problem-solving capacities and long-term viability. [less ▲]

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See detailAbsent, yet present? Tracing "Responsible Research and Innovation" in Radiation Protection Research
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Conference (2017, June 28)

In this paper, I argue that although the notion of responsible research and innovation (RRI) is manifestly absent in research programs for radiation protection and nuclear research and training, RRI is ... [more ▼]

In this paper, I argue that although the notion of responsible research and innovation (RRI) is manifestly absent in research programs for radiation protection and nuclear research and training, RRI is increasingly recognized, and mobilized, by various actors in the field; is an essentially contested concept; and facilitates the development of a sizeable network comprising actors with a variety of roles, expectations and stakes, including researchers in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). To sustain these points, I draw on my experiences as an embedded social scientist in nuclear research, singling out sites and instances (e.g. the crafting and dissemination of the 2015 Ricomet Public Declaration, SSH research within the EU-Concert framework, conversations with radiation protection researchers) where RRI is explicitly discussed, propagated, negated, or transformed. This exploration highlights recurring challenges of “translating” RRI to radiation protection research, such as the strong evaluative connotation of RRI and its top-down character; the lack of industry involvement in RRI processes; the tight connection between RRI and new and emerging technologies; and the hybridization of SSH through inter- and transdisciplinary research. I discuss each of these challenges in turn, with the aims of reflexively considering how RRI is co-produced in radiation protection research through negotiations between stakeholders and the interplay of practices and artifacts; and what the potential implications of these processes are for SSH engagement in the field. [less ▲]

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See detailHow microbes network (and are networked) in geological disposal research: a sociological perspective
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Schröder, Jantine; Turcanu, Catrinel

Conference (2017, May 05)

In MIND subtask 3.2, we ascertain whether and how microbes, microbiologists, and microbiology are enrolled into research on the geological disposal of radioactive waste. We adopt a social studies of ... [more ▼]

In MIND subtask 3.2, we ascertain whether and how microbes, microbiologists, and microbiology are enrolled into research on the geological disposal of radioactive waste. We adopt a social studies of science (actor-network theory) perspective that observes how actors within MIND (e.g. MIND researchers, members of the MIND Implementer Review Board) and outside the project (e.g. geologists, waste management regulators, policy makers) process data and generate insights on the role of microbes in waste disposal, and how these processes elicit challenges and opportunities for enrolment. Examples of the latter include mixed appreciations of the impact of microbial activity on artificial barriers (e.g. negligible vs. substantial), the scope for, and appeal of, institutional uptake of microbiology research (e.g. through the coupling of microbiology research to “the safety case”), and the (re)drawing of disciplinary boundaries (e.g. between microbiology and geology). Drawing on these and related examples, we explore how through projects like MIND, microbes network, and are networked, differently for the joint purpose of radioactive waste disposal. [less ▲]

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See detailGoverning radioactive waste in the interim: A cross-national comparison
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Conference (2017, April 18)

In this presentation, I briefly review current practices in different countries (e.g. USA, Belgium) concerning the interim storage of intermediate and high-level radioactive waste. Drawing on ongoing ... [more ▼]

In this presentation, I briefly review current practices in different countries (e.g. USA, Belgium) concerning the interim storage of intermediate and high-level radioactive waste. Drawing on ongoing research within the Programme for the Integration of Social Aspects into nuclear research (PISA) at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN, I provide a definition of interim storage and outline a possible research agenda for this area. Interim storage is defined as the stowing of high-level radioactive waste in temporary facilities for an indefinite period, until a more permanent solution is established. As the large majority of countries still has decades, if not centuries, to go before geological disposal facilities become operational, the notions of “temporary” and “interim” cover immense timespans that remain unaccounted for by scientists, technologists, regulators, implementers, and policy makers. It is therefore worth asking the following research questions: Which social, legal, and ethical considerations come into play when the concepts of “temporary” and “interim” are stretched? How do social, legal, and technical considerations interact with regard to (prolonged) interim storage facility safety? The outputs of this line of investigation are relevant to all actors involved in radioactive waste management, including governments, waste management organisations, civil society, and wider publics. [less ▲]

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See detailParticipation Beyond Consensus? Technology Assessments, Consensus Conferences and Democratic Modulation
Van Bouwel, Jeroen; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

in Social Epistemology (2017)

In this article, we inquire into two contemporary participatory formats that seek to democratically intervene in scientific practice: the consensus conference and participatory technology assessment (pTA ... [more ▼]

In this article, we inquire into two contemporary participatory formats that seek to democratically intervene in scientific practice: the consensus conference and participatory technology assessment (pTA). We explain how these formats delegitimize conflict and disagreement by making a strong appeal to consensus. Based on our direct involvement in these formats and informed both by political philosophy and science and technology studies, we outline conceptions that contrast with the consensus ideal, including dissensus, disclosure, conflictual consensus and agonistic democracy. Drawing on the notion of meta-consensus and a distinction between four models of democracy (aggregative, deliberative, participatory and agonistic), we elaborate how a more positive valuation of conflict provides opportunities for mutual learning, the articulation of disagreement, and democratic modulation—three aspirations that are at the heart of most pTAs and consensus conferences. Disclosing the strengths and weaknesses of these different models is politically and epistemically useful, and should therefore be an integral part of the development of participation theory and process in science and technology. [less ▲]

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See detailLearning from Incidents and Incident Reporting: Safety Governance at a Belgian Nuclear Research Center
Rossignol, Nicolas ULiege; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

in Science, Technology & Human Values (2017), 42

This article examines how incidents are governed in a Belgian Nuclear Research Center by way of an incident reporting system named REX. Drawing on a documentary analysis of incident reports, interviews ... [more ▼]

This article examines how incidents are governed in a Belgian Nuclear Research Center by way of an incident reporting system named REX. Drawing on a documentary analysis of incident reports, interviews and focus groups with personnel, it illustrates how REX enacts a safety governmentality centered on identifying incident causes and culprits. As this governmentality mode obscures the epistemic and political character of incidents, it closes down important opportunities for collective learning about safety and safety governance. It is argued that joint reflection about incidents and resistances towards incident reporting serve as fruitful starting points for a more reflexive safety governance that makes explicit how decisions are made in high-risk contexts. Social scientists can enhance governance of this kind by pointing to different perceptions and evaluations of incidents and by insisting that contending interpretations are confronted and accounted for. [less ▲]

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See detailMultiple roadmapping, scenario planning and technology assessment: The case of nanotechnologies
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Scientific conference (2016, December 19)

This presentation illustrates how roadmaps and scenarios are used, and can be used, in the diverse field of nanotechnologies. Its aim is to draw lessons from nanotechnologies to: 1. Ascertain how the ... [more ▼]

This presentation illustrates how roadmaps and scenarios are used, and can be used, in the diverse field of nanotechnologies. Its aim is to draw lessons from nanotechnologies to: 1. Ascertain how the social sciences and humanities (SSH) can contribute to developing research agendas, 2. Clarify which terms, approaches, and methods (e.g. Delphi) are mobilized in roadmap and scenario planning, 3. Provide concrete suggestions on how to develop scenario-driven roadmaps in equally complex and uncertain fields, such as radiation protection. [less ▲]

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See detailBurgerwetenschap na Fukushima
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Conference (2016, November 14)

Detailed reference viewed: 9 (0 ULiège)
See detailOf microbes, incidents and citizens: A look inside the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Conference (2016, November 04)

In this presentation, I provide an overview of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN and delve into three research lines presently being developed within the SCK-CEN social science research group: 1 ... [more ▼]

In this presentation, I provide an overview of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN and delve into three research lines presently being developed within the SCK-CEN social science research group: 1. citizen science after Fukushima, 2. incident reporting at SCK-CEN, 3. the impact of microbes and microbiology on radioactive waste governance. [less ▲]

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See detailWhat’s with the hyphens? A social studies perspective on science-technology-society
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege

Scientific conference (2016, September 13)

This presentation highlights the roles social scientists (notably in the field of science and technology studies) can/should play in nuclear research and development. Three cases are briefly described and ... [more ▼]

This presentation highlights the roles social scientists (notably in the field of science and technology studies) can/should play in nuclear research and development. Three cases are briefly described and assessed: citizen science after Fukushima, incident reporting at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN, and the "microbiologization" of radioactive waste management. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrating Science and Technology into Sports: A Case Study of Sports Innovations in Belgium
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Van Hoyweghen, Ine

Conference (2016, September 01)

This paper explores the dynamic interplay between sports and innovation policies, research and development processes, and science-driven sports practices in Wallonia and Flanders (Belgium). Here, as in ... [more ▼]

This paper explores the dynamic interplay between sports and innovation policies, research and development processes, and science-driven sports practices in Wallonia and Flanders (Belgium). Here, as in other countries and regions, the aim of integrating science and technology into sports is now a leading sports policy principle and innovation strategy. Building on science and technology studies (STS) tools and methods (vision assessment, multi-site ethnography, foresight), the paper draws out the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) induced by the use of new sciences and technologies in sports. These ELSI include the client-centered nature of sports science, which raises concerns about occupational control and athlete welfare, the uptake of genetic data in sports talent detection programs, and the challenges of coordinating "data-driven" and "intuitive" sports training approaches. It is argued that as sports are scientized and technologized, such ELSI demand to be addressed by sports innovators, governing bodies, and publics. By drawing critical attention to how sports are increasingly shaped by devices, data flows, and scientists, the paper states the case for bringing sports into STS and STS into sports. [less ▲]

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See detailCitizen science in the nuclear field: An exploration of its potential in governing nuclear incidents, accidents, and post-disaster situations
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Turcanu, Catrinel; Van Hoyweghen, Ine et al

Conference (2016, June 28)

Citizen science (CS) is a form of science developed and enacted by citizens, typically with citizen volunteers collecting and/or analyzing various kinds of data. As CS serves public purposes (e.g ... [more ▼]

Citizen science (CS) is a form of science developed and enacted by citizens, typically with citizen volunteers collecting and/or analyzing various kinds of data. As CS serves public purposes (e.g. educational goals) and emanates within democratic and participatory cultures (e.g. the open science movement), it potentially broadens scientific research and facilitates public participation in science policy. Whereas the role of CS is well documented in fields such as amateur astronomy, biohacking, video gaming, etc., there is a dearth of research about the role of CS in the nuclear field. Yet, following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, CS has demonstrably contributed to filling knowledge and information gaps, as citizens in the affected areas monitor radioactivity in the environment and communicate about environmental risks (e.g. Citizens’ Radioactivity Monitoring Project). In this process, citizen scientists have voiced ardent criticism of government and industry, as these institutes are seen to deliberately inhibit open knowledge sharing. Taking these insights as an entry point, this paper probes the potential of CS in the governance of nuclear incidents/accidents, emergency situations, and in post-disaster recovery. Drawing on past and present CS initiatives connected to nuclear incidents and accidents in Japan, the USA, Canada, and the UK, it conceptualizes the social spaces in which CS emerges; ascertains which knowledge, information and decision-making challenges CS addresses; and determines which collective lessons can be drawn to ensure more legitimate and socially robust nuclear governance. Particular attention is given to the role governments, industries, and established scientists can, and should, assume as potential facilitators, patrons, or challengers of a more collective, open approach to disaster preparedness and response. The latter category comprises social scientists, who in Japan have been criticized for “disengaging” with CS practice, thereby limiting opportunities for contextual learning about disasters and even hampering post-trauma disaster recovery. The paper engages with the following conference themes: The future role of publics in processes of government/governance; Empowering publics in new innovation processes. [less ▲]

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See detailVolunteering Citizens in Nuclear Risk Governance: Citizen Science after Fukushima
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Turcanu, Catrinel; Yoshizawa, Go et al

Conference (2016, April 20)

Citizen science (CS) is a form of science developed and enacted by citizens, typically with citizen volunteers collecting and/or analyzing various kinds of data. Whereas common forms of CS like bird ... [more ▼]

Citizen science (CS) is a form of science developed and enacted by citizens, typically with citizen volunteers collecting and/or analyzing various kinds of data. Whereas common forms of CS like bird counting and amateur astronomy generally elicit interest and approval on behalf of scientists, decision makers, and publics at large, CS in the nuclear field is far more contentious. This is due to the controversial nature of nuclear science and technology, as evidenced by public disputes about nuclear energy, nuclear waste management, and nuclear accidents, among others. Starting from these observations, this paper probes the risky, disputed character of CS in nuclear emergency and post-accident situations. It specifically looks at CS in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, where citizens in affected areas monitor radioactivity in the environment and communicate about health and environmental risks with one another (e.g. Citizens’ Radioactivity Monitoring Project). In these processes, citizen scientists voice ardent criticism of government, industry, and academia, as these institutes are seen to deliberately spread biased information to sustain an illusion of control (http://blog.safecast.org). By taking science and technology into their own hands, they challenge conventional notions of citizen engagement, science, and avocation/volunteerism. The paper draws on the notions of contentious politics and issue politics (e.g. Marres 2005) to highlight the issue-driven, adversarial and untamed character of post-Fukushima CS in the nuclear field. It is argued that these notions better capture what CS after Fukushima amounts to, as conventional representations (e.g. volunteer sensing, “citizens as sensors,” public participation in scientific research) downplay scientific uncertainties and power asymmetries between citizens and authorities, and do not account for how “Fukushima” is reconfiguring scientific citizenship in novel ways. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Bullshit Abstract: From Critique to Reflexive Practice
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Charlier, Nathan ULiege; Claisse, Frédéric ULiege

Conference (2016, March 17)

Academics use the abstract to summarize and communicate a research paper’s focus, methods, findings, and conclusions. However, not all abstracts are convincing. Many are bland, uninspired, or outright ... [more ▼]

Academics use the abstract to summarize and communicate a research paper’s focus, methods, findings, and conclusions. However, not all abstracts are convincing. Many are bland, uninspired, or outright stupid, as authors do not always know what they want to say or how to communicate complex research in the space of a few hundred words. They hence often convey the kind of “intelligent stupidity,” which Robert Musil (1937) said could hardly be “distinguished from talent, progress, hope or improvement.” By implication, abstracts are prone to contain and perpetuate “academic bullshit” (Frankfurt 2005), broadly understood as forms of academic expression that meet the stylistic academic standards but generate content that is deceptive, doubtful, or irrelevant. Taking this inherent disposition towards bullshit in the academic abstract as its entry point, this paper presents ten self-authored “bullshit abstracts,” which draw inspiration from various academic fields. Far from denouncing bullshit outright, it acknowledges the inevitable character of bullshit in academic writing (Eubanks and Schaeffer 2008). It urges academics to reflexively consider, and perform, their roles as researchers and writers in view of the challenges they face today, such as reputation management and the pressure in academia to publish or perish; and their complete lack of sensitivity to the odorous aspects of writing. [less ▲]

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See detailGetting on Board but How? Conflicting Perspectives on the Role of the Social Sciences and Humanities in Radiation Protection
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Rossignol, Nicolas ULiege; Perko, Tanja et al

Conference (2016, March 14)

In Europe, science research policy is predicated on the understanding that science and technology (S&T) serve societal needs. Accordingly, European Framework Programs urge scientists and technologists to ... [more ▼]

In Europe, science research policy is predicated on the understanding that science and technology (S&T) serve societal needs. Accordingly, European Framework Programs urge scientists and technologists to give due attention to societal and ethical aspects of S&T, and to engage with social scientists and humanists when doing research and reaching out to society. Starting from these policy prescriptions and from invitations from befriended life scientists to "get on board," we explore the terms of our involvement as social scientists and humanists in a European Joint Program on radiation protection research (EJP-CONCERT). We illuminate recurring tensions between instrumental, normative, and substantive perspectives on the role of the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in radioprotection research and nuclear S&T. Our aim is to shed light on the controversial and contingent nature of integrating SSH into nuclear S&T, as actors articulate divergent assumptions and expectations about SSH and society. These expectations pertain to the value of SSH research for S&T, issues of trust and legitmacy, and different perspectives on risk and uncertainty. By rendering these tensions explicit we seek to probe the implications for SSH of developing a separate SSH Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) within radiation protection research. [less ▲]

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See detailScience, technology and society: opening pathways for integrating social sciences and humanities into nuclear research
Turcanu, Catrinel; Meskens, Gaston; Perko, Tanja et al

Poster (2016, February 11)

The PISA programme was initiated in 1999 within the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN to study the societal, political, cultural and ethical aspects of the development and use of nuclear technology ... [more ▼]

The PISA programme was initiated in 1999 within the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN to study the societal, political, cultural and ethical aspects of the development and use of nuclear technology and applications of ionising radiation. The programme was launched as the result of an internal reflection acknowledging that insights from social sciences and humanities were required to better explore normative concepts such as precaution and sustainable development, and to understand attitudes towards nuclear technologies and its governance. This presentation elaborates on the objectives of PISA and its main research tracks. It shows that through its multi-disciplinary approach, the PISA programme of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK•CEN opens pathways towards such integration, and thus contributes to rendering nuclear research more reflective and more responsive towards society. It explicates the interactions between science, technology and society, in general, and the complexity of nuclear technology assessment, in particular. Last, but not least, due do its reflexive character, PISA research creates an epistemologically and socially enriching dynamic in the organisation itself. [less ▲]

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See detailNew ventures in nuclear emergency planning and response: a governance perspective
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULiege; Rossignol, Nicolas ULiege; Turcanu, Catrinel

Poster (2016, February 11)

Emergency and disaster management is structured by the complex interaction of natural, social, and technological factors, and contingent on features of culture and organization. Our research serves to ... [more ▼]

Emergency and disaster management is structured by the complex interaction of natural, social, and technological factors, and contingent on features of culture and organization. Our research serves to highlight how these features come into play and shape emergency planning, anticipation, and response. Based on qualitative and quantitative analyses, we devise more resilient, responsive, and adaptive emergency policies for implicated stakeholders (e.g. policymakers, emergency services, regulators) and society at large. Our research foci include citizen science initiatives and stakeholder forums on contaminated goods in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident. Our methods are grounded in vulnerability analysis, which accepts that vulnerability is an inherent trait of contemporary societies. [less ▲]

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