Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 405–424 | Cite as

Appreciation Through Use: How Industrial Technology Articulates an Ecology of Values Around Norwegian Seaweed

  • Sophia EfstathiouEmail author
  • Bjørn K. Myskja
Research Article


This paper offers a moral history of the industrialisation of seaweed harvesting in Norway. Industrialisation is often seen as degrading natural resources. Ironically, we argue, it is precisely the scale and scope of industrial utilisation that may enable non-instrumental valuations of natural resources. We use the history of the Norwegian seaweed industry to make this point. Seaweed became increasingly interesting to harvest as a fruit and then as a crop of the sea in the early twentieth century following biochemical applications for alginates derived from seaweed. When harvesting was mechanised, however, attention turned to the environmental and aesthetic value of kelp forests. Further, the sale of the industry to the American FMC corporation flagged the national value of these plants. In sum epistemic, aesthetic and moral appreciations of natural resources are tangled up and co-evolve with their industrial utilisation, in an ecology of values. Our account uses interview and ethnographic material from key sites in Norway.


Seaweed harvesting Techno-moral change Ecology of values Appreciation Techno-value change Norwegian alginate industry 


  1. Andersson, A. (2016) Kjemper om tareskogens skattkammer. Bergens Tidende, 20 august 2016 10:04. Available at (with subscription):
  2. Anker, P. (2007). Science as a vacation: a history of ecology in Norway. History of Science, xlv, 455–479.Google Scholar
  3. Aure, J. (2016). Kystklima. In Havforskningsrapporten 2016, Havforskningsinstituttet: 40–42. Available at:
  4. Bekkby, T. (2015). Flotte tareskoger, sørgelige kråkebolleørkener og annet snacks,, 12.8.2015. Avaliable at
  5. Booth, E. (1977). History of the seaweed industry. 1. Alginate Industry. Chemistry & Industry, 13, 528–534.Google Scholar
  6. Douglas, H. E. (2009). Science, policy and the value-free ideal. Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fikse Ness, K. (2014) Bli med ned i Trøndelags fantastiske undervannsverden, Adresseavisen, 7.10.2014. Avaliable at
  8. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The New Production of Knowledge. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Haraway, D. (2008). When species meet, MN. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  10. Havressursloven (2008). Lov om forvaltning av viltlevande marine ressursar. Available at
  11. Indergaard, M. (2010). Tang og tare - i hovedsak norske brunalger: Forekomster, forskning og anvendelse. Report. Available at
  12. Indergaard, M. (2016). The first international seaweed symposium held in Edinburgh 1952: applied seaweed science coming of age. Journal of Applied Phycology. 1–9. doi:
  13. Indergaard, M., & Jensen, A. (1991). Utnyttelse av marin biomasse. NTH-Trykk: Trondheim.Google Scholar
  14. Jasanoff, S. (2004). Ordering knowledge, ordering society. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), States of Knowledge: The co-production of science and social order. Oxon and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Knudsen, O. (1962). About this number. Norway Exports, 3/1962, 27.Google Scholar
  16. Lunde, G. (1937). Vår sjøtang og dens industrielle utnyttelse. Teknisk Ukeblad, 84(16), 192–200.Google Scholar
  17. Minteer, B. A., & Miller, T. R. (2011). The new conservation debate: Ethical foundations, strategic trade-offs and policy opportunities. Biological Conservation, 144, 945–947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Næss, A. (1973). The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement. A summary. Inquiry, 16(1), 95–100.Google Scholar
  19. Sakshaug, E., et al. (2002). Rapport til Fiskeridepartementet: Nedbeiting av tareskog i Norge. Oslo: Fiskeri-departementet.Google Scholar
  20. Shapin, S. (2008). The scientific life: a moral history of a late modern vocation. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stanford, E. C. C. (1883). On algin: a new substance obtained from some of the commoner species of marine algae. The chemical news and journal of physical science, 47(254–257), 1267–1269.Google Scholar
  22. Steen, H., Bodvin, T. & Moy, F. (2013). Effekter av tarehøsting på fisk og skalldyr Nord-Trøndelag 2012. Havforskningsinstituttet: Rapport fra Havforskningsinstituttet, nr.4/2013.Google Scholar
  23. Steen, H., Moy, F. & Bodvin, T. (2014). Undersøkelser av stortarehøsting i Nord-Trøndelag og Nordland i 2013. Havforskningsinstituttet: Rapport fra Havforskningsinstituttet.Google Scholar
  24. Steen, H., Bodvin, T. & Moy, F. (2016). God gjenvekst av stortare etter prøvehøsting i Nordland. In Havforskningsrapporten 2016, Havforskningsinstituttet: 63–65. Available at:
  25. Stilgoe, J., Owen, R., & Macnaghten, P. (2013). Developing a framework for responsible innovation. Research Policy, 42(9), 1568–1580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Swierstra, T. (2013). Nanotechnology and technomoral change. Etica & Politica/ Ethics & Politics, XV, 1, 200–219.Google Scholar
  27. Swierstra, T. (2015). Identifying the normative challenges posed by technology’s ‘soft’ impacts. Nord J Appl. Ethics, 9(1), 5–20.Google Scholar
  28. Thompson, P. B. (1995). The spirit of the soil: agriculture and environmental ethics, London and. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Van den Joven, J., Vermaas, P. E., & van de Poel, I. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of Ethics, Values and Technology Design: Sources, theory, values and application domains, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York. London: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. Vea, J., & Ask, E. (2011). Creating a sustainable commercial harvest of Laminaria hyperborea, in Norway. Journal of Applied Phycology, 23, 489–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Werner A. & Kraan, S. (2004). Review of the potential mechanisation of kelp harvesting in Ireland, Marine Environment and Health Series, no. 17, especially pp. 1–27. Available at

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Scienc and Technology - NTNUTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations