Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2-2016

Abstract

In recent years, a growing number of researchers in science and technology studies have begun to examine the relationship between science and politics. Specifically, they focus on citizen participation in highly technical policy problems and explore the possibility of a technical democracy that avoids pitfalls of technocracy. This focus, however, downplays a possibly more serious obstacle to technical democracy than technocracy, namely, realpolitik. Based on ethnographic and textual data on citizen–government interactions in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, we first show how citizens mobilised radiation detectors and counter-experts to force the Japanese government to admit scientific uncertainty about the permissible dose limit. We then explain why this successful mobilisation nonetheless had only a small impact on evacuation and compensation policies in terms of the pre-disaster structure of Japanese politics: the dominance of commission-based policy-making allowed the bureaucratic government to play realpolitik in the face of scientific uncertainty to expediently purse its own interest, circumventing both democratic deliberation and technical rigour.

Discipline

Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Sociology

Research Areas

Sociology

Publication

Science, Technology and Society

Volume

21

Issue

1

First Page

5

Last Page

23

ISSN

0971-7218

Identifier

10.1177/0971721815627251

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1177/0971721815627251