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Beyond control - The Uncertainties and Diverging Images of Swedish Chemicals Regulation


Today,industrialised societies are frequently confronted with new warnings deliveredby experts about risks associated with anthropogenic substances. Such warnings aretypically not related to any definitive consequences but rather to admissionsof great uncertainty about effects, and thus they contrast sharply to politicalpromises of non-toxic environments and a highly regulated production ofchemicals. It is the argument of this article that the high uncertaintysurrounding chemicals allows for the proliferation of radically divergent andparadoxical images of chemicals regulation and its functionality. The articleanalyses the rationality underlying the system of chemicals control in Sweden,a country often priding itself on having one of the most progressivelegislations in the world. The regulation and control performed by the twocentral agencies involved in the control of chemicals are studied through textanalysis and interviews, and the concluding discussion frames chemicalsregulation by theories on post-politics and post-ecologism.

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