Chernobyl's 1986 disaster, which so much shook public opinion all over Europe, had particularly important consequences in Italy. Some controversial political events contributed to drastically slow down the development of the national nuclear program. In a controversial referendum, held in November 1987, Italian citizens voted for the repeal of the laws aimed to promote the installation of nuclear power plants on the Italian soil. This work aims to analyze the reasons behind that decision, the communication strategies of the different stakeholders that took part to the public debate on nuclear energy in the weeks after Chernobyl’s accident. Drawing from methodologies used in media studies, a quantitative and qualitative analysis concerning two main Italian newspapers has been made. From this enquire we selected between the most rappresentative leaders and observers of the public dispute. We have started the qualitative stage of the research through interviews conducted with some politicians, journalists, scientists of different backgrounds. The results show that a variety of stakeholders, supporting both different values and interests, took part to that debate. Lacking a tradition of a dialogical communication and a participative experience, the Italian debate polarized around two opposing positions (with the political party embarassment), limiting the confrontation to a "yes/no choice" which eventually resulted in Italy’s stepping out of nuclear energy for civil use production. This switch in partecipating the political and technological issues spreads from a new way to involve citizens, associations and institutions in the public space. On considering other public case studies, the theoretical purpose is to draw a set of rules, roles and features of the actor network before, during and after the process of this controversy.

This abstract is based on an extended work, a part of wich (the media analysis only) is published on the last issue of Health Physics Journal, Vol. 93, Issue 4, October 2007, p. 261-266: M. C. Cantone, G. Brunelli e G. Sturloni, The role play by stakeholders in the public debate that brought Italy out of the club of nuclear energy producers.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Lessons learning. Drawing the stakeholders' interactions on communication of risk

Giancarlo Brunelli   University of Milan

Chernobyl's 1986 disaster, which so much shook public opinion all over Europe, had particularly important consequences in Italy. Some controversial political events contributed to drastically slow down the development of the national nuclear program. In a controversial referendum, held in November 1987, Italian citizens voted for the repeal of the laws aimed to promote the installation of nuclear power plants on the Italian soil. This work aims to analyze the reasons behind that decision, the communication strategies of the different stakeholders that took part to the public debate on nuclear energy in the weeks after Chernobyl’s accident. Drawing from methodologies used in media studies, a quantitative and qualitative analysis concerning two main Italian newspapers has been made. From this enquire we selected between the most rappresentative leaders and observers of the public dispute. We have started the qualitative stage of the research through interviews conducted with some politicians, journalists, scientists of different backgrounds. The results show that a variety of stakeholders, supporting both different values and interests, took part to that debate. Lacking a tradition of a dialogical communication and a participative experience, the Italian debate polarized around two opposing positions (with the political party embarassment), limiting the confrontation to a "yes/no choice" which eventually resulted in Italy’s stepping out of nuclear energy for civil use production. This switch in partecipating the political and technological issues spreads from a new way to involve citizens, associations and institutions in the public space. On considering other public case studies, the theoretical purpose is to draw a set of rules, roles and features of the actor network before, during and after the process of this controversy.

This abstract is based on an extended work, a part of wich (the media analysis only) is published on the last issue of Health Physics Journal, Vol. 93, Issue 4, October 2007, p. 261-266: M. C. Cantone, G. Brunelli e G. Sturloni, The role play by stakeholders in the public debate that brought Italy out of the club of nuclear energy producers.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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