Hot air ablowin! 'Media-speak', social conflict, and the Australian 'decoupled' wind farm controversy
In work in science, technology, and society, social conflict around wind farms has a growing profile, not least because it draws our attention to two key interrelated themes: 'science, technology and governance' and 'socio-technological systems'. In this article on Australian wind farm development and siting, these themes are highlighted in contexts of sustainability, legitimacy, and competency for policy effectiveness. There is enduring social conflict around wind farms at the local community level, but little government understanding of this conflict or willingness to respond adequately to resolve it. This article examines the conflict through the lens of print media analysis. A key finding of the five identified is that people seeing wind farms as spoiling a sense of place is a primary cause of enduring social conflict at the local community level around wind farms, alongside significant environmental issues and inadequate community engagement; this finding also indicates a central reason for the highly problematic state of Australian wind energy transitions. In turn, by identifying this problematic situation as one of a significantly 'decoupled' and 'dysfunctional' condition of the Australian socio-technological wind farm development and siting system, I suggest remedies including those of a deliberative nature that also respond to the Habermas-Mouffe debate. These inform a socio-technical siting approach or pathway to better respect and navigate contested landscapes for enhanced renewable energy transitions at the local level.
Social Studies of Science