Pragmatic Constructions: Simulation and the Vulnerability of Technological Cultures

PhD dissertation project by Matthijs Kouw, completed in 2012

Simulations and models fulfill a crucial and instrumental role in defining, monitoring, predicting, countering, and communicating various risks. However, reliance on simulations and models can make technological cultures susceptible to risks, e.g. through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots that may accompany simulation practice.

Based on an ethnographic study of the use of simulations and models in hydrology, hydrodynamics, geotechnical engineering, and ecology, the dissertation discusses how simulations and models make knowledge of risks more or less visible, and to what extent their use makes technological cultures susceptible to risks.

The dissertation was supervised prof. dr. Sally Wyatt and prof. dr. ir. Wiebe Bijker.