Le 'tournant participatif' et ses antécédents historiques dans la gouvernance nucléaire en Finlande, en France et au Royaume-Uni

Lehtonen, Markku (2012) Le 'tournant participatif' et ses antécédents historiques dans la gouvernance nucléaire en Finlande, en France et au Royaume-Uni. Démocratie & Participation. ISSN 2034-7669

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In parallel with the increasing adoption of participatory methods of planning and decision-making in a number of areas of public policy, in several western countries, the governance of nuclear energy has been experiencing its own “participatory turn”. This transformation has been most visible in the area of radioactive waste management, but modest steps towards greater openness and participation have recently been taken also in questions concerning nuclear new-build. The forms that such a “participatory turn” has taken in different countries vary according to national idiosyncrasies such as political culture and institutions in the countries in question.

This article examines the evolution of participatory methods and their concrete manifestations in the governance of nuclear power in Finland, France and the United Kingdom – three countries currently constructing or planning to construct new nuclear reactors. The article first presents the most recent and significant examples of the “participatory turn”: the “nuclear debates” under the auspices of the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) in France, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures in Finland, and the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in the UK. These experiences are then placed in their historical context of evolving participatory practices in the nuclear sector as well as in other sectors that have pioneered in the adoption of participatory methods in the three countries.

The analysis underlines the importance of pressures internal to the nuclear sector – in particular the failures of the techno-rationalistic evaluation and policy approaches – in fostering the emergence of participation, especially in France and in the UK. The Finnish case contrasts with the British and French experiences to the extent that factors external to the nuclear sector and to the country as a whole have been crucial in stimulating the adoption of participatory methods. In all three countries, “epistemic communities” have been crucial agents acting in favour of greater citizen participation. Future research could usefully examine the competition between different epistemic communities, including international communities, as well as the impact of national specificities and cultural factors in the evolution and institutionalisation of participatory practice.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science
Depositing User: Markku Lehtonen
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2012 09:20
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2017 02:13
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41716

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