Contesting the new irrational actor model: a case study of mobile phone mast protest
Public opposition to the siting of telecommunications masts tends to focus on perceived health risks, yet scientific evidence suggests that mobile handsets may constitute more of a risk. This paradox is usually explained in terms of cognitive or communication deficit models that contain an implicit thesis of protest actor irrationality. Recent authors (e.g. Burgess, 2002, 2004;Taverne, 2005) have, however, been more explicit in arguing that such protests are an irrational reaction to media constructed fears and state mismanagement of techno-infrastructure modernization. Together these approaches form what we call the ‘New Irrational Actor Model’. Drawing on insights from social movements theory and data from a 12-month case study of the campaign against Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) telecommunications masts in north-east Fife, we argue that contrary to the ‘New Irrational Actor Model’, the anti-mast protesters utilize multi-form modes of substantive and instrumental rational action.
RightsPublished version (c)SAGE Publications, available from DOI: 10.1177/0038038507076616
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