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The foundations of safety science (Editorial)

Abstract : Safety as an object of scientific investigation can be claimed to have emerged in relation to social ambitions for increased protection - developing research, experimenting and testing methods, tools and models with the aim of understanding and managing unwanted actions or events. Safety has proven to be a multifaceted topic that can be approached from many different perspectives. Although established as a domain of applied knowledge, the status of safety science is indeed in its “broadness” in many ways contested. It has a holistic character, being constituted by a mix of approaches coming from many scientific traditions. It can also be said to be of relatively young age as a defined scientific community. Indeed, a lot of very different scientific material has been produced in the past decades but one is entitled to look at safety science as a kind of “messy place.” An abundance of empirical works, models, metaphors and theories exists today with few established normative criteria for evaluating their scientific validity across disciplines and domains. Recognizing the importance of such issues and the value for safety science to examine, be reflective and critical about its current state, we introduced the call for papers for this special issue in November 2012 using the term “foundations” to cover both methodological, theoretical and philosophical themes and questions in a broad sense. We believe that it is important for the wellbeing of a scientific discipline that theories and methods are examined every so often and internal investigations may also come to represent starting blocks for the creation of new ideas. In this editorial, we begin with some of our thoughts on the current scope of safety science. Thereafter we argue for some general issues of concern for safety science, which motivated us to put together a call for a special issue. One thing that caught our eye early on was the lack attention to topics of foundation character in journals and at conferences, and we have included in the editorial a section on some of the reactions we received when promoting the call at conferences in 2012 and 2013. When launching the call for papers openly on the Safety Science webpage in November 2012, we asked authors to reflect on a certain areas. As an introduction to the points of departure some of these topics are repeated here before we end the editorial by introducing the eight papers of the special issue and the postscript written by Andrew Hale.
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Jean-Christophe Le Coze. The foundations of safety science (Editorial). 2014, pp.1-5. ⟨10.1016/j.ssci.2014.03.002⟩. ⟨ineris-01855503⟩



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