Debates and politics in safety science

Publisert i
Reliability Engineering & System Safety
ISSN 0951-8320 e-ISSN 1879-0836
Studio Apertura

This article explores what complementary perspectives Science and Technology Studies and in particular Actor Network Theory may bring to safety science beyond what comes out of traditional comparisons between highly profiled theories/perspectives of Normal Accident Theory (NAT), High Reliability Organisations (HRO), Resilience Engineering (RE) and Safety II.

In the article, core ideas of NAT, HRO and RE/Safety II are reviewed, and debates over NAT/HRO, HRO/RE and Safety I/Safety II are discussed. Thereafter, controversies over complexity, non-events and uncertainty respectively are identified and elaborated, drawing on a richer repertoire from the social sciences, in particular Actor Network Theory. The article concludes by inviting to more serious engagement in scientific controversies and politics of safety, and operationalises this into three propositions: Take complexity seriously; broaden the perspectives and methodologies for understanding sociotechnical work; and make safety science research politically oriented (again).