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Controversy and Politics Divider

Stages of a Controversy

Why do some controversies take off? (Mazur)

Bullet pointWarning (Ignition Phase)
  • scientific discovery
  • news report or book eg Rachel Carson, Ralph Nader
  • watchdog groups - environmental, consumer, scientific
  • accident/event
  • local community opposition to a project

Bullet pointWarning taken up by a few people

  • taken up by a few easily identifiable groups
  • limited to a few geographic sites
  • general public uninformed and perhaps unaware of controversy
  • limited media attention
  • limited resources
  • use of stunts/emotional appeals, exageration to get attention

Bullet pointMass Movement

  •  groups become joined into a more or less organised network, people recruited
  • successful national movements require a coalition of local protest groups and a strong effort to lobby federal government through courts, Congress, govt departments
  • a few individuals on each side of the controversy emerge as nationally known spokespersons
  • opposing, hostile camps become clearly identified, one the establishment side supporting the technology, the other the challenge side made up primarily of voluntary organisations.
  • new members recruited among friends and acquaintances, new members join as a bloc as organisations merge.
  • public demonstrations get media attention
  • movement participants develop a shared outlook which emphasizes the hazards of the technology and their confrontation with the establishment.