Building the Trident Network
A Study of the Enrollment of People, Knowledge, and Machines
232 pp., 6 x 9 in, 17 illus.
- Published: February 15, 2008
- Published: October 26, 2001
In Building the Trident Network, Maggie Mort approaches the United Kingdom's Trident submarine and missile system as a sociotechnical network. Drawing on the sociology of scientific and technical knowledge and on actor-network theory, Mort recounts how the Trident program was stabilized in the United Kingdom and brought into "successful" production. She uncovers the nature of this success by retelling unofficial histories of Trident, of production roads not taken, and of potential technological "distractions." The production of Trident, she shows, was not inevitable but contingent and problematic.
Using material from interviews and local texts, Mort explores the emergence of a counternetwork in the form of a workers' campaign for alternative technologies. She develops concepts of "disenrollment" and "absent intermediaries," in which redundant workers and marginalized technologies serve to discipline and reinforce the dominant network as production shrinks. She also examines the maintenance of the barrier between the technical and the social/political in this context. The management of uncertainties within the Trident production program emerges as critical to its successful completion.
Exploring with great subtlety the hidden history of a major weapon system, Mort adds a new moral and political dimension to the sociology of technology.
Donald MacKenzie, Department of Sociology, University of Edinburgh
Maggie Mort tells the fascinating and unusual story of the development of a high-tech submarine from the point of view of workers on the project.
Michel Callon, Professor, École des mines de Paris
[An] important and timely contribution to the sociology of science and technology.
American Journal of Sociology
This pioneering work constitutes a lucid, nuanced, and convincing introduction of labor history into the analysis of large-scale sociotechnical systems. It should be read by all who are interested in the interplay of politics, society, and technology.
Geoffrey Bowker, Department of Communication, University of California San Diego