The Politics of Science in Polar Regions

  • Aant Elzinga
  • Ingemar Bohlin
Part of the Environment and Assessment book series (ENAS, volume 3)


This chapter is meant to provide a backdrop for some of the issues taken up in the chapters that follow. Also, it presents some analytical terms that are useful in science policy analysis, particularly dealing with motivations and the practice of polar research, with special reference to the Antarctic. It introduces a concept of institutional motives, reviews some or the driving factors in modem polar research and considers some similarities and differences between Arctic and Antarctic science, in order to highlight the latter. External political conditions that form the framework within which polar research is done today, differ considerably in the two regions. In the Arctic the exertion of national sovereignty, as well as military and economic interests in a number of countries have hindered the far-reaching international cooperation in science found in the Antarctic.

At the same time these factors have contributed to a fragmentation of knowledge production, while in the Antarctic, an international treaty arrangement which suspends territorial claims and emphasizes research has created conditions favorable to basic research. The focus is mainly on the tradeoff between science and politics in the Antarctic, and it is suggested that research there has a symbolic instrumental function, as distinct from a practical instrumental function which is most prominent in the Arctic.


Polar Region Strategic Research Contemporary Issue Polar Research Economic Motive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aant Elzinga
  • Ingemar Bohlin

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