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date: 14 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Shale gas development rapidly transformed energy production when new techniques emerged in the late 1990s and 2000s. The combination of high-volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, or “fracking,” allowed development in vast, previously inaccessible, “unconventional” oil and gas deposits. Fracking has been welcomed by many national governments as a purportedly low-greenhouse-gas-emitting, energy-security-providing windfall. But it has simultaneously motivated vehement local opposition, to some surprising political effect. Many jurisdictions around the globe now have bans on the practice. This chapter explores shale gas development as a contested “sociotechnical imaginary,” an imagined form of social order reflected in technological projects. Drawing on the controversy in New York in the United States, it demonstrates how the “drill, baby, drill” imaginary was debunked as groups framed it as inherently risky and dangerous, and sought to empower institutions supporting an alternative imaginary.

Keywords: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, shale gas, sociotechnical imaginary, energy

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