Making Boundaries Malleable: Systemic Intervention in a Contested Setting

By Virginia Baker, Jefferson Fowles, Wendy Gregory and David Phillips.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper describes a science intervention in an environmental health issue where residents adjoining a chemical plant were concerned about suspected exposure to dioxin 2,3,7,8-TCDD. The issue was characterised by long-standing controversy between government, science, and community. A social science approach was utilised to facilitate engagement with the affected community and multiple stakeholders, and to design a multi-disciplinary science investigation.
This paper reappraises the dynamics of practice in this setting and draws on the theory of boundary critique (Midgley, 2000) and boundary arrangements (Hoppe 2002; 2005) to explore how the social science worked as an integrative discipline. As a ‘soft’ science in a hard science institutional setting, this explores how the work done from a social science disciplinary stance enabled the boundary spaces, hardened by long-standing conflict, to be made malleable.

Keywords: Boundary Critique, Conflict, Boundary Traffic, Boundary Work, Rhetorical Bridging, Science, Policy, Community Consultation, Local Knowledge, Interdisciplinary

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.31-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 794.605KB).

Virginia Baker

Social Scientist, Integrative Research for Sustainability Group (IRfS), Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited (ESR), Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand

Dr. Jefferson Fowles

LyondellBasell Industries, Rotterdam, Netherlands

LyondellBasell Industries, NETHERLANDS

Dr. Wendy Gregory

Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited (ESR), Christchurch, New Zealand

Dr. David Phillips

Director of Public Health, Dorset Primary Care Trust, UK, Dorset Primary Care Trust, NHS, Dorset, UK

Dorset Primary Care Trust, UNITED KINGDOM


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