nuclear power

Lessons learned from the 2011 debacle of the Fukushima nuclear power plant

Toshio Sugiman

The history of nuclear power generation in Japan is analyzed with respect to how the organizational structure of the “nuclear villages,” composed of government, private companies and the academic world, negotiated with the growing technology before the Fukushima accident took place. Although nuclear specialists were aware of the potential for a disaster, that did not prevent the enthusiasm for nuclear. The majority of people trusted that new technology would make life easier. The organizational structure of the village consisted of a triangle in which each of the three groups and sub-groups maintained relationships with each other and with the village as a whole to secure its own share of the economic benefits. Based on the sociological theory of norm, we demonstrate that the structure and nature of the relationships in the village facilitated the acceptance of nuclear power despite the element of threat.


Local people’s understanding of risk from civil nuclear power in the Chinese context

Xiang Fang

This paper analyses how people understand civil nuclear risk in the local context in China. The findings of the paper are based on six months of fieldwork research on a potential inland nuclear power project in Dapu townland in 2007 and 2008. Understanding varies greatly depending on local context, with economic, geographic and social factors influencing the way people view risks and benefits. I argue that when local people do not have enough ‘scientific knowledge’ to understand risk from nuclear power, they can still use their experience of everyday life to reflect rationally on the risks and benefits that they face. I conclude that when local people trust in nuclear technology and ‘the government’, and are unaware of nuclear risk it is partly because of their over-dependence on institutions and experts. However, despite their lack of agency, local people rationally calculate risk and benefit in accordance with their social identity and geographical location.