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The Institutional Context of Science, Models, and Policy: The IIASA Energy Study

Brian Wynne
Policy Sciences
Vol. 17, No. 3, The IIASA Energy Study (Nov., 1984), pp. 277-320
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4532026
Page Count: 44
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The Institutional Context of Science, Models, and Policy: The IIASA Energy Study
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Abstract

This article is a complement to Keepin's technical analysis of the energy models and scenarios in the IIASA global energy study, Energy in a Finite World. It analyses the role of formal global energy models in the scenarios and policy conclusions as described in the IIASA Energy System Program's (ESP) own statements. It finds inconsistencies which have confused external audiences, including modelers, as to the importance of properties of formal models in generating authority for policy conclusions. The analysis finds two contradictory images of scientific authority pervading the ESP's published accounts. This article argues that models are more symbolic vehicles for gaining authority than objective technical frameworks. Whilst this is in principle legitimate, it means that the internal processes (and not just the products) of modeling projects are a legitimate subject of public evaluation. Due attention must therefore be paid to the quality and disclosure of such processes. The institutional process of analysis reflects a particular policy style itself and constraints what policies are even conceivable. Claims to scientific analysis and definition of policy problems are themselves symptomatic of a policy framework which is biased at a deeper level than that of specific prescriptions.

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