The unsolicited rocket: a story of science, technology, and future wars

Scientific article
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This article investigates the puzzling case of the unsolicited rocket: a Norwegian research establishment successfully developed a weapon system that no one wanted or had asked for that was later widely adopted. We argue that the ‘Terne’ weapon existed not because it was needed based on rational calculations about efficiency, but because of the narratives, coalitions, and competitive dynamics that surrounded it and made it useful. Conventionally, war and technology are often considered distinct ‘things’ with immutable essences, used as variables to explain other phenomena, rather than being examined on their own terms. In this case, we focus empirically on the configuration of sociotechnical imaginaries, and the capacities for action that arise out of it. In foregrounding sociotechnical systems, this is not a case of the ‘militarization’ of civilian society and research in peacetime. Rather, agency lay in competitive networks of narratives and coalitions between technologies, individuals, professions, technological communities, military organizations, and funding bodies, together shaping how ideas and technologies become authoritative and dominant.

  • Published year: 2022
  • DOI:
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Page count: 21
  • Language: English
  • Volume: 2022
  • Journal: Critical Military Studies
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