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Alain-Marc Rieu (2013) Thinking after Fukushima. Epistemic shift in social sciencesAsia Europe Journal March 2013, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 65-78
The Fukushima catastrophe is a turning point in the conception, role and management of technology in industrial societies. As did Hiroshima (on another dimension) after 1945, the Fukushima nuclear accident questions and transforms established conceptions and values concerning the relations between technology, politics, industry, society and the environment. It has become impossible to think after Fukushima as we did before. This catastrophe initiates a major epistemic and conceptual shift with long-term consequences. This paper focuses on a powerful conceptual complex associating the notions of risk, trust and knowledge society. This complex associates discourses, theories and policies. The objective is to criticize this conceptual complex in order to explore how to rethink, after Fukushima, the relations between technology, politics, industry and society.
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One thing is known for sure: society will never be able to control a sovereign technology and sovereign industries, which require an aggregation of power and resources beyond political oversight. Such a power structure cannot be controlled by a democratic society.
Therefore nuclear technology and industry defy and deny democracy. This is the reason why nuclear plants should be closed and the nuclear industry stalled as long as advanced industrial societies have not imagined and implemented the political reforms able to produce knowledge, organize debate and implement reliable democratic control with respect to this technology.