What Can Go Wrong?

23rd Jun 2010

16:30 - 18:00

Seminar Room, Ground Floor, Chisholm House, High School Yards


This paper looks at a high-profile aviation accident to illustrate a new perspective on the sociology of technological failure and the question of whether such failures are potentially avoidable. Drawing on insights from the sociology of scientific knowledge, it highlights, and then challenges, fundamental principles underlying our understanding of technological risk. From here, it suggests a new approach to disaster theory by proposing a novel category of man-madecalamity: the ?Epistemic Accident?.

Speaker Biography:

John studied sociology at Edinburgh University and the philosophy of science at Cambridge and before receiving his Ph.D. from Cornell University?s Department of Science and Technology Studies. Since graduating, he has worked as a research fellow at the London School of Economics? Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR), and will move to Stanford University in September. He is currently in the final stages of writing a book for MIT Press about the assessment and regulation of safety-critical technologies.