Constructing criticality by classification: Expert assessments of mineral raw materials

Erika Machacek

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

1 Citationer (Scopus)


This paper explores the role of expertise, the nature of criticality, and their relationship to securitisation as mineral raw materials are classified. It works with the construction of risk along the liberal logic of security to explore how “key materials” are turned into “critical materials” in the bureaucratic practice of classification: Experts construct material criticality in assessments as they allot information on the materials to the parameters of the assessment framework. In so doing, they ascribe a new set of connotations to the materials, namely supply risk, and their importance to clean energy, legitimizing a criticality discourse. Specifically, the paper introduces a typology delineating the inferences made by the experts from their produced recommendations in the classification of rare earth element criticality. The paper argues that the classification is a specific process of constructing risk. It proposes that the expert bureaucratic practice of classification legitimizes (i) the valorisation that was made in the drafting of the assessment framework for the classification, and (ii) political operationalization when enacted that might have (non-)distributive implications for the allocation of public budget spending.

Sider (fra-til)368-377
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2017


  • Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer


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