The Gas Lighting Controversy - Technological Risk, Expertise, and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London
Journal of Urban History, 2007, 33, 5, 729-755
FRESSOZ, Jean-Baptiste, The Gas Lighting Controversy - Technological Risk, Expertise, and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London, Journal of Urban History, 2007, 33, 5, 729-755 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/16468
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Is the risk society exclusively postmodern? This article addresses this question by examining the controversy on gas lighting in nineteenth-century Paris and London. Unlike other technologies of that time, gas light was established in the central social spaces of urban life: in opera houses and theaters, in arcades and boulevards, and in reading rooms and cafes. In all these spaces, gas brought about the insecurity of sudden darkness, the noxious vapors of chemical industries, and the risk of explosion. In the end, the debate centered on a huge gasholder built in the fashionable Paris neighborhood of Faubourg-Poissonni re. To assess the risks, French and English experts used contrasting methods, founded on different cultures of objectivity. The article concludes by assessing their heuristics and the overall impact of the public controversy and the regulation it entailed on the construction of a safer gas lighting system.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/16468
Full-text via DOI: 10.1177/0096144207301418
Publisher: Sage Publications Inc
Files associated with this item
There are no files associated with this item.