Issue 1.4, November 1986

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Essay Excerpt

Risk in Culture: The American Conflict over Nuclear Power

by Gary L. Downey

It has become commonplace to assert that technological risk is a social phenomenon.  Social science studies typically establish the point by showing that risk avoidance involves more than scientific criteria.  No group responds to all risks in a way that is directly proportional to the magnitudes of the physical hazards involved, and different social groups avoid different kinds of hazards differently.  The public controversy over nuclear power has provided the paradigm case, for the decade-long entrenchment of pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear alignments in the fact of changing evidence about the hazards of nuclear power stimulated much of the research on risk in the first place. (388)

Downey, Gary L. "Risk in Culture: The American Conflict over Nuclear Power." Cultural Anthropology 1, no. 4 (1986): 388-412