|dc.description.abstract||Modern science is well established as the institution through which knowledge is
legitimated, facts are produced, and credibility is assigned. Operating within the
prevailing capitalist socio-political order, science is also controlled by the wealthy
elite, whose resources are required for its production, evaluation, and
implementation. Beyond disproportionately serving powerful interests, however,
science enables the most privileged groups within society to embolden certain
understandings of the world and marginalize others, to shape public perceptions,
behaviors, and norms, and thus to reinforce the existing social systems and
institutions that support their own dominance.
Building on critical scholarship that addresses inequality by problematizing the
structures and practices that reproduce power, this thesis examines the prominent
and politically opposed positions of the oil industry and mainstream
environmentalists in the U.S. policy debate over whether to permit petroleum
development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Specifically,
through Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), I explore how these two 'mid-stream'
scientific actors, which have effectively appropriated the wider 'for' and 'against'
drilling campaigns respectively, each engage with the generation as well as
dissemination of technical knowledge in order to substantiate their arguments and
enhance the authority of their claims.
The analysis presented here demonstrates that the hegemonic framing of the
ANWR conflict, which I describe in terms of Materialism as Morality, reifies scientific
expertise whilst burying values beneath assumptions of objectivity and neutrality. It
also allows incongruent truth claims to eclipse the many legitimate but competing
perspectives, priorities, investments, ideologies, risks, and ethical dilemmas that lie
at the heart of the ANWR drilling debate. Moreover, this framing is implicit in the
perpetuation of systemic social and environmental injustice. Ultimately, my research
argues for a transformative politics that engages all stakeholders in the negotiation
of competing interests, the discussion of social values, and the production of
scientific knowledge; and above all, which recognizes the interconnectivity of all