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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Fallacies of Virtualization A Case Study of Farming, Manure, Landscapes, and Dutch Rural Policy

Boonstra, Wiebren J.; Bock, Bettina B.


The recent rapprochement between Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Political Science (PS) is induced by the broadened understanding of political action. The debate concerning the nature of "the political'' produces an important question concerning the possibilities of an issue-or object-oriented focus for understanding political action. The purpose of this article is to contribute to this debate through an analysis of how relations between material and social entities are continuously recontextualized and decontextualized in social and political interaction. The authors discuss established approaches to explain the concept of virtualization. Virtualization is then used in a case study on the implementation of manure regulation in East Fryslan, the Netherlands, to illustrate how cases or issues are virtualized in political decision making, which produces initial presumptions that carry conclusive weight. The authors conclude that a broad understanding of the political in both STS and PS can only be sustained through an understanding of how relations between social and material entities are continuously decontextualized and recontextualized in political and social interaction.


virtualization; rural politics; manure; dairy farming; the Netherlands

Published in

Science, Technology, and Human Values
2009, Volume: 34, number: 4, pages: 427-448
Publisher: Sage Publications

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    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
    Social Sciences
    Economics and Business

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