The Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy

The Fukushima Accident and Public Perceptions About Nuclear Power Around the Globe: A Challenge & Response Model

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We examine the impact of the Fukushima accident (March 2011) on global public perceptions of nuclear power. We contrast conceptually and empirically two models, an event & effect (EE) model [Kim, Y., Kim, M., & Kim, W. (2013). Effect of Fukushima nuclear disaster on global public acceptance of nuclear energy. Energy Policy, 61, 822–828] and our own challenge & response (CR) model. We replicate Kim et al. (2013), who modelled retrospective opinion changes on a set of “objective” predictors, using historical opinion data 1996–2016 for 23+ countries. The EE model shows little explanatory power for opinion shifts beyond nuclear dependency in the energy mix. We argue that individual and societal responses to nuclear accidents are constrained by cultural memories, and introduce the alternative CR model. Memory, both individual and collective, is primarily adaptive and makes available schematic information to deal with uncertain and novel situations. The CR model explains better the responses to Fukushima with memory factors of “Past Responses to Nuclear Incidents”, of “Nuclear Renaissance” and “Long-term levels of Acceptance”. We are able to typify 23 countries according to their characteristic pattern of cultural memory and their Fukushima responses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Pages (from-to)505-526
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Fukushima, cultural memory, nuclear accident, nuclear disaster, public opinion, ENERGY, RISK, CHERNOBYL, MEDIA COVERAGE, ATTITUDES, INTENTIONS, DISASTER, BELIEFS, ACCEPTANCE, OPINION

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