Posted: July 22nd, 2016
On page 426 of Steven Epstein’s essay, in discussing Gieryn’s “boundary work” thesis he argues that the “recent reconfiguration of the boundaries (Gieryn 1983) between the “inside” and the “outside” of biomedicine has been the outcome of struggle.” Can the same be said for the “inside” and “outside” of engineering and its subfields?
Your task here is to do an analysis of a moment of “struggle” over norms within engineering, and questions of relevant expertise. Examine the discourse around the official NIST investigation of the collapse WTC Building 7, and determine:
1. whether that investigation was conducted in a way that conformed to the norms of engineering-based investigations of this sort. Determine whether the investigation sought to, and did successfully, answer the relevant questions raised about the fate of the building, or whether legitimate questions remain; and
2. how organizations critical of the NIST narrative have fared in making a case for their own expertise as a basis for rejecting the official narrative (an example of such a group would be Architects & Engineers for 9/11 truth, www.ae911truth.org). In your view, is this an organization whose voice should be considered an expert one?Why or why not? Some potential resources (there are many others):
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