- Should I be worried? Citizens’ experiences and the risk politics of cell site deployment
- Award date
- 29 June 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
How do we deal with the risks of new technology? This research takes the mobile phone cell sites as case. The exponential growth of the wireless telecommunications network, materialized in the construction of cell sites, is raising concerns about its health risks for decades. Where do citizens’ worries about these possible health effects come from? How do local protests against cell site deployment emerge, and why are some cell sites hotly debated while others are constructed without raising a single complaint?
This research answers these questions with a longitudinal, mixed method and multi-level analysis of politics and citizens’ experiences of this technology in the Netherlands and Southern California. It shows how politics affect our everyday understandings of mobile phone cell sites. Experienced risks and uncertainties are to a significant degree the outcome of the political attempt to contain risks. This research also shows that citizens’ protest feeds back into risk politics to a limited extend. Local interactions between policy makers, industry professionals and citizens explain why in some cases individual concerns grow into organized protest. However, over time governments and industry have learned how to depoliticize the technology. Paradoxically, the ways in which this happens further fuels citizens’ concerns. That is why many citizens continue to pose the question ‘should I be worried?’ when they are being confronted with a cell site in their neighborhood.
- Chapter 7 has been accepted for publication in the European Journal for Cultural and Political Sociology.
Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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