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Better Active than Radioactive!Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany$
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Andrew S. Tompkins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198779056

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198779056.001.0001

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Anti-Nuclear Fusion

Anti-Nuclear Fusion

Protesters, Motivations, and Traditions

(p.29) 2 Anti-Nuclear Fusion
Better Active than Radioactive!

Andrew S. Tompkins

Oxford University Press

Though the opposition to nuclear energy is often caricatured as a ‘single-issue movement’, it attracted diverse participants who forged a shared critique of ‘nuclear society’. This chapter examines who protested and why in order to explain the emergence and intensity of anti-nuclear protest during the 1970s. The movement is conventionally divided into conservative, Nimby ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders’ from a left-wing, student milieu. However, each of these (constructed) categories was highly diverse: local activists were animated by material interests, environmental concerns, regional identities, and a sense of injustice that increased with time; outside activists might be associated with non-violence and anti-militarism, communist and anarchist wings of the radical left, or a hippie-inspired counterculture, all of which were deeply embedded within other ‘new social movement’ networks. Furthermore, the boundaries between ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders’ were fluid, and many individuals defied easy categorization. Over the years, diverse arguments cross-fertilized into a shared discourse.

Keywords:   nuclear energy, Nimby, environmentalism, non-violence, radical left, écologistes, popular politics, mass movement, nuclear society

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