Reference : Volunteering Citizens in Nuclear Risk Governance: Citizen Science after Fukushima
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Volunteering Citizens in Nuclear Risk Governance: Citizen Science after Fukushima
Van Oudheusden, Michiel mailto [Université de Liège > Département de science politique > Anal. et éval. des politiques publ.-Méthod. de sc. politique >]
Turcanu, Catrinel []
Yoshizawa, Go []
Van Hoyweghen, Ine []
Technologies of Prediction: An international workshop on risk, uncertainty and the management of future health
du 19 au 21 avril 2016
Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - Vlaanderen; Belgian Science and Technology Studies Network; Academy of Finland
[en] Citizen Science ; Fukushima ; Nuclear
[en] Citizen science (CS) is a form of science developed and enacted by citizens, typically with citizen volunteers collecting and/or analyzing various kinds of data. Whereas common forms of CS like bird counting and amateur astronomy generally elicit interest and approval on behalf of scientists, decision makers, and publics at large, CS in the nuclear field is far more contentious. This is due to the controversial nature of nuclear science and technology, as evidenced by public disputes about nuclear energy, nuclear waste management, and nuclear accidents, among others. Starting from these observations, this paper probes the risky, disputed character of CS in nuclear emergency and post-accident situations. It specifically looks at CS in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, where citizens in affected areas monitor radioactivity in the environment and communicate about health and environmental risks with one another (e.g. Citizens’ Radioactivity Monitoring Project). In these processes, citizen scientists voice ardent criticism of government, industry, and academia, as these institutes are seen to deliberately spread biased information to sustain an illusion of control ( By taking science and technology into their own hands, they challenge conventional notions of citizen engagement, science, and avocation/volunteerism. The paper draws on the notions of contentious politics and issue politics (e.g. Marres 2005) to highlight the issue-driven, adversarial and untamed character of post-Fukushima CS in the nuclear field. It is argued that these notions better capture what CS after Fukushima amounts to, as conventional representations (e.g. volunteer sensing, “citizens as sensors,” public participation in scientific research) downplay scientific uncertainties and power asymmetries between citizens and authorities, and do not account for how “Fukushima” is reconfiguring scientific citizenship in novel ways.

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