Accepted Paper:

Blowing the whistle on risks for health and the environment: An STS / law interplay  


Olivier Leclerc (CNRS)

Paper long abstract:

The paper aims at presenting the emergence of a legal protection for whistleblowers in France in the domains of health and the environment. The enactment of such a legal protection for whistleblowers has been warmly promoted by NGOs and social scientists involved in the democratization of scientific choices and strongly influenced by STS. The paper proposes a socio-legal history of this evolution. It highlights a dynamic interplay between social mobilization and legal categories.

The paper focuses on three main aspects. First, the paper shows how the promoters of a legal protection had to reshape their project to fit into the existing legal system as it was heading its way to the Parliament. The civic mobilization for the protection of whistleblowers had to cope with an entirely new set of references including legal technicalities and to leave aside more critical or radical discourses. Second, the paper stresses the overriding impact of legal technique on the design of a protection for whistleblowers. The already existing legal protection for whistleblowers in other domains, such as discrimination and corruption, plays an important role. In France, the protection against discrimination works as a model for posterior legal developments. Even if discrimination is not at stake, the legal design enacted for discrimination is hardly escapable. Third, the paper focuses on the role of legal scholarship, as an epistemic community, in the unification of a legal notion of "whislteblower" in French law, leaving the idiosyncratic history of each legal trend unseen.

Panel C4
Non-concerns about science and technology and within STS