Cultural Dreams, Cultural Nightmares: the Symbolic Dimensions of Nuclear Power

John W. G. Lowe, Planmetrics, Inc.
ABSTRACT - The failure to adequately recognize the symbolic dimensions of nuclear power and act accordingly has led to progressive polarization in the nuclear debate, to the ultimate disservice of the consumer. Symbolic attributes associated with nuclear power - timelessness, abnormality, invisibility, and concentrated power - are characteristics of the sacred or spiritual world. To many people, the opposition to nuclear power comes town to "I don't trust having this godlike power in the hands of fallible human beings."
[ to cite ]:
John W. G. Lowe (1986) ,"Cultural Dreams, Cultural Nightmares: the Symbolic Dimensions of Nuclear Power", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 13, eds. Richard J. Lutz, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 668.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 13, 1986      Page 668

CULTURAL DREAMS, CULTURAL NIGHTMARES: THE SYMBOLIC DIMENSIONS OF NUCLEAR POWER

John W. G. Lowe, Planmetrics, Inc.

ABSTRACT -

The failure to adequately recognize the symbolic dimensions of nuclear power and act accordingly has led to progressive polarization in the nuclear debate, to the ultimate disservice of the consumer. Symbolic attributes associated with nuclear power - timelessness, abnormality, invisibility, and concentrated power - are characteristics of the sacred or spiritual world. To many people, the opposition to nuclear power comes town to "I don't trust having this godlike power in the hands of fallible human beings."

The symbolic connotations of nuclear energy require forceful notions of authority and legitimacy among those most intimately associated with it. This is just what is called into question by construction delays and cost overruns, and the adversarial nature of the legal process. The result, a series of feedback loops such as that between legal action and reduction in legitimacy, has been largely responsible for the morphogenesis in nuclear programs around the world, some seemingly quite successful, others, as in the U.S.A., mired in fiscal disaster.

For further information, write to:

Dr. John U. G. Lowe / Planmetrics, Inc. / 18 E. 48th Street, 21st floor / New York, NY 10017

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