Unconventional gas developments and the politics of risk and knowledge in Australia

Espig, Martin and de Rijke, Kim (2016) Unconventional gas developments and the politics of risk and knowledge in Australia. Energy Research and Social Science, 20 82-90. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2016.06.001

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Author Espig, Martin
de Rijke, Kim
Title Unconventional gas developments and the politics of risk and knowledge in Australia
Journal name Energy Research and Social Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2214-6296
Publication date 2016-06-18
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.erss.2016.06.001
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 20
Start page 82
End page 90
Total pages 9
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject 2105 Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
2104 Nuclear Energy and Engineering
2103 Fuel Technology
3301 Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
2102 Energy Engineering and Power Technology
Abstract Australia could become the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter by 2021. Especially the unconventional coal seam gas (CSG) reserves in the state of Queensland are developed at an unprecedented scale and pace. This rapid growth has intensified land use competition and, combined with concerns over associated extraction techniques such as hydraulic fracturing ('fracking'), the CSG industry has prompted heated debates about its impacts. In this paper we present findings from our ethnographic fieldwork within Queensland's gas fields and demonstrate how various actors respond differently to questions of risk and existing levels of knowledge. Highlighting this contingent nature of risk and knowledge, we caution against reductionist scientific understandings that suggest imaginary boundaries between knowledgeable experts and uninformed citizens. Rather, we argue for an anthropological perspective that allows to carefully think through the ways in which contentious subterranean resources such as CSG become known and how risks are socio-politically negotiated. This focus on the underlying politics of risk and knowledge is highly relevant to public debates over unconventional hydrocarbon developments and can address a central issue for the energy production in industrialized societies: the challenges of environmental change and the resulting socio-political negotiations of knowledge in the contemporary 'risk society'.
Keyword Anthropology of energy
Coal seam gas
Expert-lay discrepancy
Risk society
Unsettled science
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 5 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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