Contesting facts about wind farms in Australia and the legitimacy of adverse health effects


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The development of wind energy in Australia has been subject to ongoing public debate and has been characterised by concerns over the health impacts of wind turbines. Using discursive psychology, we examine ‘wind turbine syndrome’ as a contested illness and analyse how people build and undermine divergent arguments about windfarm health effects. This article explores two facets of the dispute. First, we consider how participants construct ‘facts’ about the health effects of wind farms. We examine rhetorical resources used to construct wind farms as harmful or benign. Second, we examine the local negotiation of the legitimacy of health complaints. In the research interviews examined, even though interviewees treat those who report experiencing symptoms from wind farms as having primary rights to narrate their own experience, this epistemic primacy does not extend to the ability to ‘correctly’ identify symptoms’ cause. As a result, the legitimacy of health complaints is undermined. Wind turbine syndrome is an example of a contested illness that is politically controversial. We show how stake, interest and legitimacy are particularly relevant for participants’ competing descriptions about the ‘facts’ of wind turbine health effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337–355
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


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