Macospol Platform Tutorial

A tutorial for Decision-Makers and Journalists on controversy mapping and the use of the MACOSPOL platform

Classified under Users (Journalists, Decision-makers)

Welcome to this controversy mapping tutorial

This page is the entry point of an hypertext tutorial in mapping controversies. The path we designed will guide you thorugh a series of crossroads, with the objective of letting you explore possibilities and actions that you can take to map out differnet aspects of controversies throught the use of the web tools and the case studies collected within the Macospol platform.

The exploration tutorial has been designed in order to target Decision-makers and Journalists. By selecting these two figures, the workshop aims at targeting two groups that have a central (and often itself disputed) role in articulating controversies in the context of contemporary democracies. Journalists need instruments to map out technoscientific disputes for their public and are confronted with the problems of narrating and elaborating different frames for their audiences, while experiencing various kind of constraints (e.g. time, money, space for news, political meaning of their work). Decision makers face other kind of problems, e.g. a tension between, on one hand, the need of ensuring the public interest and, on the other hand, the need to have public legitimacy and support when confronted with the uncertainties brought by disputed and controversial technoscientific objects in the policy arena.

What are technoscientific controversies?

Are human activities changing Earth's climate? Can really genetically modfied crops end world hunger? Are there potential risks in the development of nanotechnologies? Which are the most safe and secure plants for waste treatment? Not a day goes by now without being exposed to such dilemmas through the media. Pages of newspapers, TV debates, forums web daily report and cover controversial science and technology issues.

The word controversy refers here to every bit of science and technology which is not yet stabilized, closed, or "black boxed"; it does not mean that there is a fierce dispute, nor that knowledge has been somehow politicized; we use it as a general term to describe shared uncertainty. We can define uncertainty about science and technology as a special condition in which the public, the experts but also you, as journalist and decision-makers, are alltogeher faced with a puzzling condition: "we know that we don't know, but that is almost all that we know" (Callon et al., 2001, p. 40.).

A first crossroad to enter the world of controversies

A first choice we ask you to make is whether you prefer to explore your own controversy, that is a controversy you are involved in, you are reporting, studying or you are simply interested in, or you prefer instead to choose and have a look to one or more controversies that has been already mapped by researchers and professionals:

You can choose to follow one of the link below, or, in alternative, to freely navigate in the MAPPING CONTROVERSIES website:




Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., and Barthe, Y., 2009, Acting in an Uncertain World. An Essay on Technical Democracy, MIT Press, Cambridge, (MA)

Related items from Macospol

Bruno Latour on Mapping Controversies
An Introduction to the MACOSPOL project by Bruno Latour
Macospol Video Tutorial
A video introduction to the world of mapping controversies