Title

Atoms and Democracy: Political Transition and the Role of Nuclear Energy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 1999

Publication Title

Democratization

Department

Politics and Government

Abstract

Under periods of political change from authoritarianism to democracy, why does nuclear energy become a catalyst for political protest in some countries and not others? This study investigates the link between anti?nuclear protest and democratization, arguing that the extent to which a high?risk technology becomes a target of democratization movements is a function of the institutional characteristics of the technology generated under the preceding authoritarian regime. In the case of nuclear energy, where authoritarian states have built an institutional foundation for the technology rooted in national identity and technical prestige, political opposition during subsequent periods of democratization will be weaker than if they had relied on its instrumental utility and on regulatory power. Such institutional claims make it difficult to attack the technology without appearing to oppose progress or the aspirations of the nation itself. During periods of political change, variations in technological institutions and their resulting legitimacy will have a dramatic effect on the strength and content of anti?nuclear activity.

Volume

6

Issue

3

pp.

171-189

ISSN

1351-0347