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Political Conflict in the Guise of Technology? On the Relationship Between "the Political" and "the Technological" in Nuclear Waste Management

The environmental problems associated with nuclear waste, induced by the proliferation of nuclear power, have for decades been expected to be solved by (future) perpetual technology development and innovation. Reliance on technology is thereby crucial in nuclear waste management and technological promise legitimizes the continuation of nuclear power operation. However, there are still no operational technologies for ‘final’ disposal of long-lived nuclear wastes and the technological promises have thereby not yet been fulfilled. While the uncertainties surrounding waste governance in the past have produced extensive political conflict and public protest, the situation today is rather characterized by quiescence. Essentially, the focus on the politics of nuclear waste has been replaced by a more technically oriented paradigm which at its core assumes that political conflict can be resolved by technical means. A point of departure of the dissertation is that this assumption is problematic; ‘the political’ does not seize to be political because we stop addressing it as such. Therefore, the object of the dissertation is to elaborate on the relationship between ‘the political’ and ‘the technological’ in an area which represents itself as politically and technologically neutral. Empirically, and by employing qualitative methods, I reflect the multi-sited character of socio-technical nuclear waste management by exploring a range of arenas: from the local communities where the nuclear waste is to be disposed of underground, to nuclear technology decision-making in a national court of law, to international committees of technical experts.

Supervisor: Göran Sundqvist
PhD candidate: Hannes Lagerlöf
Duration: 2015-2019


Page Manager: Anders Östebo|Last update: 5/17/2018

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