Offshore democracy: launch and landfall of a socio-technical experiment

Lezaun, Javier (2011) Offshore democracy: launch and landfall of a socio-technical experiment. Economy and Society, 40 (4). pp. 553-581.


In the 1970s a group of social scientists attempted to create a new, more democratic form of work organization aboard the Norwegian merchant ship Balao. To do so they redesigned the physical structure of the ship to facilitate the emergence of a participatory shipboard community. This paper revisits the journeys of Balao as an example of the potential and limits of experimental democracies. It describes the processes of social miniaturization implemented in the organization of Balao's work processes, the particular ergonomics of democracy that resulted from the new model layout and the vexing question of the project's landfall: its limited impact as a ‘demonstration experiment’ for a more democratic organization of production.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: industrial democracy; political demonstrations
Subject(s): Science & technology management
Centre: Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2011 14:08
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05

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