Transparency in a New Global Order
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Transparency in a New Global Order

Unveiling Organizational Visions

Edited by Christina Garsten and Monica Lindh de Montoya

This book argues that transparency is a concept that has gained increasing currency and favour as an organizing principle and administrative goal in recent years. Calls for transparency have been directed towards states, markets, corporations and national political processes as well as towards large institutions such as the European Union.
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Chapter 11: A Traumatizing Transparency Exercise on Mobile Phones and Health Risks

Linda Soneryd


Linda Soneryd INTRODUCTION: NEGOTIATING TRANSPARENCY In 1999 the European Council decided to adopt a common standard for a third generation (3G) mobile phone technology (EC, 1999a; Lembke, 2002). In Sweden as well as in many other European countries there have been multiple local protests against planned transmitters and masts, as well as controversies over the risks and long-term consequences of radiation (Borraz et al., 2004; Burgess, 2004; Soneryd, 2004; Stilgoe, 2004). In 2000 the Swedish National Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) and mobile phone operators signed an agreement to establish a 3G net that would cover 99.98 per cent of the Swedish population by the end of 2003. By 2002, it was obvious that the establishment would be seriously delayed for various reasons including the extensive process of handling building permits and insufficient applications from the operators, as well as local protests against planned masts. The response from the Swedish Radiation Protection Agency (SSI) to this situation was to gather the groups that were critical of 3G in a ‘transparency exercise’. The aim of this chapter is to illustrate how transparency, rather than revealing hidden intentions and practices, forms an arena in which the legitimate participants, the responsibility of governmental authorities as well as legitimate sources of knowledge are continuously contested and negotiated. THE CONTROVERSY In Sweden it is SSI that determines the nationally acceptable levels of radiation. They base their judgements on the recommendations by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) and the European Union (EU) (EC,...

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