Brief and Analysis

Brief and Analysis

Hugh Gusterson offers his analysis of the nuclear laboratory in Livermore. He offers insights that lead to a greater understanding of the scientists working there. Many people cannot understand why scientists would continue developing weapons that are capable of killing millions of people in an instance. Gusterson shows the extreme that scientists have gone to when testing their weapons. He notes the various experiments conducted on people by exposing them to dangerous chemical elements. They have also tested their experiments on animals. According to Gusterson, nuclear scientists have a different perception of the role. They have developed a unique culture, which tends to focus more on the technological and scientific process instead of the human element ().

There is less expression of emotionalism. The scientists are more likely to concentrate on the use of correct terminologies rather than the psychological effects of the process. They use a different language when referring to their atomic creation. Their lessons may appear crude to the ordinary man who is not used to open discussion of weapons. The instructors and the students incorporate dark humor in their lessons, focusing on topics such as death and bombs. The scientists approach to death, effects of nuclear weapons and the human body and the use of dark humor in their classes may make them appear insensitive. They make people comparable to machines. People who have experienced the effects of war or nuclear weapons would not be able to identify with the nuclear scientists.

In his article, Limits of the State: Beyond the Statist Approaches and their Critics, Timothy Mitchell attempts to define the state and to make a clear distinction between the state and the society. He notes that the pressure and influences within the society defines the concept of the state. In defining the state, one should consider its role in power operations, its organization and techniques irrespective of their durability, and its functions and symbols. The society is important, as it contains the internal power that states uses. Therefore, actions by individuals who form the society are important in determining and growing this sort of power. Mitchell notes that the state is not a freestanding entity that is dislocated from the society (Mitchell 77-97). In Gustenberg’s study, he notes that the scientists have different experiences concerning nuclear weapons despite the existence of the laboratory culture. The nuclear scientists are affected by the use of nuclear weapons in different ways. They have risked their lives and health as they have exposed themselves to different chemical elements. Scientists become influential when considered a part of the society.

Cultures are influential in shaping states. It is reflected in gender, social movements, popular culture, and sexuality. Culture develops as a person grows in his spiritually and intellectually. It refers to the general customs, language, education and forms of governance. Culture is not structured systematically (Steinmetz 7). This is clearly seen by the fact that even people who belong to the same culture are different in some ways. The nuclear scientists have developed their own laboratory culture. They use the same kind of language and they share the same kind of jokes. They understand each other in a way that someone from another discipline or a different profession would not. Despite this, they are different in their thoughts, beliefs and actions. They differ on many things. For instance, some nuclear scientists cannot develop atomic weapons. They are opposed to the destruction they would cause. Such scientists would choose to concentrate on finding other ways of using the nuclear energy.



Gusterson, Hugh

1998 Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Mitchell, Timothy

1991 The Limits of the State beyond Statist Approaches and their Critics. The American Political Science Review 85.1: 77-97

Steinmetz, George

1999 State/Culture: State-Formation After the Cultural Turn. Cornell University Press

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