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Environmental politics and the enchantment of modernity: mercury and radioactive waste disposal in Sweden
Örebro University, Department of Social and Political Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9274-3634
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Current Swedish environmental policy embraces the notion of sustainable development and the discourse of ecological modernisation, both of which stress the role of modern institutions in environmental protection work. In pursuing ecological sustainability, the Swedish Government assigns importance to the issue of domestic, safe, final disposal of mercury and radioactive waste; responsibility for mercury and radioactive waste management must not be passed to future generations. This political message is not particularly controversial. Yet, siting conflicts tend to arise when the policy is going to be put into practice.

 

The aim of this thesis is to relate the emergence and course of siting conflicts concerning mercury and radioactive waste disposal to discursive aspects of its context. The societal context in which the siting process takes place contains contemporaneous, sometimes incompatible and competing discourses. The questions raised in the thesis are: What does the political message of safe, final waste disposal and sustainable development entail? What are the implications of this particular framing of the issue?

The policy proposing final disposal of mercury and radioactive waste in repositories deep in the bedrock requires local implementation. In the local implementation process the parties involved in the siting conflict struggle over definition of the suggested project, with the core of the conflict being the issue of risk versus safety. In this sense, the local conflict echoes contemporaneous and partly incompatible discourses within modernity, as well as the tension between demands for safety and uncertainties in calculations and management connected to proposals for the final disposal of mercury and radioactive waste.

The overall handling of environmental threats within the discourse of ecological modernisation can be characterised as a presentation of problems with ultimate, possible win-win solutions and an economic, technological and scientific framing of the problems. This results in a reduction of the complexity of the issue at stake, concealing its political dimensions. In the process of policy implementation, however, there emerge deferred political issues and value questions, as well as unresolved societal issues, all of which tends to result in local siting conflicts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitetsbibliotek , 2002. , p. 65
Series
Örebro Studies in Sociology, ISSN 1650-2531 ; 4
Keyword [en]
environmental politics, mercury, radioactive waste, modernity, risk, sociologi
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-38ISBN: 91-7668-312-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-38DiVA, id: diva2:136738
Public defence
2002-10-25, Hörsal C, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2002-10-25 Created: 2002-10-25 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Mercury waste management in Sweden: historical perspectives and recent trends
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mercury waste management in Sweden: historical perspectives and recent trends
2000 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, ISSN 0964-0568, E-ISSN 1360-0559, Vol. 43, no 4, p. 561-572Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses the development of Swedish policy for mercury waste management. Starting with a description of the development of the policy for hazardous waste management in Sweden, the paper examines the process which led to the parliamentary decision that mercury waste should be gathered and safely disposed of. Special emphasis is placed on how the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency deals with questions of uncertainties and risks connected to deep disposal, and to what extent the government considers that people living close to the disposal should have the opportunity to influence the decision process. The paper concludes that this policy may be hard to implement. The proposed solution may create new problems which concern to what extent and in what way the local population will trust authorities when it comes to the assertion that deep disposal will not constitute any risk for themselves or their local environment.

National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-4603 (URN)10.1080/713676572 (DOI)
Available from: 2008-09-22 Created: 2008-09-22 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
2. Risk society and secure culture conceptions of the possibilities and task of politics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Risk society and secure culture conceptions of the possibilities and task of politics
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15940 (URN)
Available from: 2011-06-15 Created: 2011-06-15 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
3. Discussion of risk and safety in mercury and radioactive waste disposal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Discussion of risk and safety in mercury and radioactive waste disposal
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15941 (URN)
Available from: 2011-06-15 Created: 2011-06-15 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
4. Mercury and radioactive waste disposal in Sweden: political handling at the local level
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mercury and radioactive waste disposal in Sweden: political handling at the local level
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-21172 (URN)
Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
5. Institutional thinking in siting conflicts: the case of Stripa mine
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Institutional thinking in siting conflicts: the case of Stripa mine
2004 (English)In: Facility siting: risk, power and identity in land use planning / [ed] Boholm, Åsa and Löfstedt, Ragnar E., London: Earthscan / James & James, 2004, p. 44-55Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Earthscan / James & James, 2004
Series
Risk, society, and policy series
Keyword
Siting conflicts, mercury, hazardous waste
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15944 (URN)1-84407-146-4 (ISBN)9781849771306 (ISBN)
Available from: 2011-06-15 Created: 2011-06-15 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Uggla, Ylva

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