ECN publication
De hardheid van de nuclaire optie in Nederland : Een onderzoek naar de doorgang van een verguisde technologie
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-1-2004
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-I--04-001 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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The central theme in this master?s thesis is the tension between attempts aimed at phasing out the nuclear option and the resistance of the implied sociotechnical structures to this fundamental change. With the term nuclear option I mean the choice of a particular country for the generation of electricity by means of nuclear fission. This study is inspired by an empirical question: why is the intention of certain counties to phase out the nuclear option so difficult to realize. This intention is constantly the object of debate. This is shown by the delay of the planned decommissioning of the Barseb├Ąck-plant in Sweden, the statements of the director of Electrabel (the company that manages the Belgian nuclear plants) that the plants will not be closed on the dates that were dictated by the Belgian government and by the fact that the Borssele-plant in the Netherlands is still up and running despite a parliamentary decree dictating the closure of the plant on 31st of December 2003. Did policymakers responsible for the decision to phase out make a mistake concerning the constructability of reality? Why is it so difficult to change the technological status quo? What factors play a role in this resistance? These questions form the core of this study.

To answer these questions I make use of the theoretical work of Anique Hommels. In her doctoral thesis Unbuilding Cities: Obduracy in Urban Sociotechnical Change she poses similar questions in relation to urban structures. Why are certain urban structures so hard to change? This resistance to change is expressed in the notion of obduracy. Hommels identifies four causations of this obduracy, which she expresses in four theoretical categories: 1) material obduracy, 2) obduracy caused by dominant ways of thinking, 3) obduracy as constituted by embeddedness, and 4) obduracy explained by persistent traditions. These notions she derives from the interdisciplinary research field of Science Technology and Society studies (STS).

I have applied three of these concepts to the attempts in the Netherlands to end the nuclear option. I have not applied the concept persistent traditions because after a preliminary investiga-tion I could not identify factors in the obduracy of the Dutch nuclear option relating to this concept.

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