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Situating Technology: Confrontations over the Use of Sonar among Turkish Fishermen and Marine Scientists

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image of Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

Since its introduction in the Turkish fisheries in 1980, use of the fish finder device sonar has been a controversial issue among fishermen and between fishermen and scientists. Most fishermen claim that sonars scare away or kill fish while local marine scientists contend that sonars have no such effect. What can study of this conflict tell us about the use of advanced technology in regions of the world far away from the metropolitan production of such technologies? In this ethnographic approach to a study in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) the fishermen's use of and the scientists' research on the sonar are surveyed. The article discusses the degree to which the adoption of sonar in the Turkish fisheries has resulted in a standardization of fishing practices—not only technologically, but possibly also in the way the fishermen perceive the hunt. Some theoretical arguments on how people relate to technology are reviewed and a phenomenologically inspired perspective advanced. It is argued that too much attention on finding the "Truth"—in this case whether the sonar is harmful to fish or not—diverts attention from more fundamental issues, such as what kinds of change sonar has brought to the social relations of production.


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