BSHS Monographs 3

Rationality and Ritual

Wynne, Brian. 1982. Rationality and Ritual: The Windscale Inquiry and Nuclear Decisions in Britain. (Oxford: British Society for the History of Science), 222pp

ISBN 0-906450-02-0



  • out of print
  • EarthScan has published a new edition of this volume.


“A book rich in insight”

“A splendid example of how social science analysis … can inform our understanding of science and technology policy making.”

“Raises questions far beyond its specific subject matter and will be an important reference point for future work in the area.”

“A detailed scholarly study… This book should prove particularly valuable for students of comparative regulatory process who are looking for informed discussions of non-US regulatory systems.”
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

For an essay review, see: Reviewed work(s): Timothy O’Riordan. 1983. ” Rationality and Ritual: The Windscale Inquiry and Nuclear Decisions in Britain by Brian Wynne,” Social Studies of Science, 13(4): 621-626:

“Brian Wynne participated actively in the Windscale Inquiry. He gave evidence for the Network for Nuclear Concern (whose acronym is NNC – the same as the National Nuclear Corporation!). He devoted much of his intellectual energy to the issue and to the analysis of the manner in which the inquiry was conducted. … Wynne is also a student of the history of scientific thought (hence the publishing connection) and a lively contributor to the general debate on how science interacts with the law, politics and institutions of democracy. His purpose here is not to review the Windscale Inquiry per se, but to examine how the scientific method, and both scientific and legal definitions of rationality, operated within a process that was designed to produce agreement – at least over rules and methods of analysis if not over the outcomes.” (p621)