Situated knowledge

One of the Mertonian norms of science is disinterestedness. In short this refers to being objective and unbiased. Such a norm assumes that objectivity in science is possible or at least desirable. This position has been increasingly criticized, not least within science and technology studies, with authors such as Haraway pointing to the situatedness of all knowledge.30 This highlights the role of the researcher's own position and perspectives in relation to the issues, processes, and people under study.

My position is one of living outside the Arctic but with a keen interest in the region and with professional and friendship ties to people who have worked at the science-policy interface of Arctic international collaboration.31 In relation to the issue of global climate change, I have a long professional interest as a science journalist covering both scientific and political aspects as the discussions have developed since the early 1990s. I thus approach the question of Arctic climate change with many pre-understandings. This has created some advantages for the research, such as helping me gain access to meetings and people as well as knowing from first-hand experience some of the issues that came up in the Arctic Council. My previous involvement with Arctic Council work includes the role of science writer for two assessments of pollution issues in the Arc-tic.32 While I was doing my research on the ACIA, I was involved as scientific editor for an assessment on Arctic human development.33 At the time of analyzing the data and writing this dissertation, I had no formal ties to the Arctic Council or any of its working groups.

This history creates a disadvantage in that I am probably not completely objective in my observations and analysis. To the extent that objectivity is a norm to be striving towards, this disadvantage should be weighed against the incentive of putting my research into a context where the results can be useful to my sources of information. I argue that the potential for a more reciprocal relationship than being an observer who leaves when the research is complete, may, in fact, be more important than a lack of un-reflected disinterestedness. This creates an incentive to provide accounts of the process and analysis that the participants can consider reasonably fair, even if they may themselves have alternative interpretations. It should, however, be clear that my loyalties are not with specific participants in the process at the expense of others or lay with specific governance arrangements. It lies with the ideals of cooperation and knowledge sharing about climate change.

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