HAMILTON, LARRY LADELL; PHD

                         UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1980

                         POLITICAL SCIENCE, GENERAL (0615)

                         This study examines the current controversies and problems in the field of nuclear energy from the
                         perspective of the public policy analyst. A major assumption of the study is that the success of new
                         technologies with potential long term hazards is threatened because an unprecedented crisis of
                         credibility has developed. In regard to the management of certain technologies, especially nuclear
                         energy, a large segment of the public has lost confidence in scientists as well as politicians and
                         government officials. The central tenet of this study is that the origins of the crisis derive from inherent
                         weaknesses in the policy making process. The impacts of these weaknesses are examined within the
                         framework developed by Theodore Lowi consisting of three arenas of political behavior: distribution,
                         regulation, and redistribution. The first weakness identified is based on the consensus building, coalition
                         formation nature of the policy producing process. The study contends that this brokerage aspect
                         precludes or lowers the empirical rigor of the political decision-making involved in policy development.
                         The second major weakness is that certain faulty assumptions have been made habitually by
                         policy-makers. The history of the growth of science and technology is reviewed to illustrate the nature of
                         the faulty assumptions. Various admonitions are recalled that politicians cannot properly 'apply' the works
                         of science without understanding it and, that society cannot afford to complacently and erroneously rely
                         on the neutrality of science and technology. The analysis of nuclear policy problems and public
                         opposition to nuclear energy development and the review of the nature of scientific and technological
                         advancement preface a prescription for change. The goal is not to change the policy making
                         process--consensus building and coalition formation. The objective is to better ensure that policy making
                         participants understand the most salient variables at issue, both short term and long term, and are under
                         some compulsion to incorporate and assign weights to these variables during policy formulations. The
                         main vehicle for the analysis is to view the nuclear power plant as a technological innovation and examine
                         its diffusion over space and time. This approach employs long established techniques used by
                         geographers to pursue questions related to identifying the best location for specific enterprises. These
                         techniques are suggested because they can serve to generate hypotheses which stimulate
                         consideration and analysis of potential long term, and possibly irreversible effects of policy decisions.
                         These methods also are intended to compensate for the tendency of policymakers to rely too heavily on
                         the faulty assumption that scientific advances will somehow, inevitably and automatically, correct any
                         undesirable side effects of innovations in technology. The method focused on primarily in the study is
                         trend surface analysis. It is used to demonstrate the several advantages its versatility offers. This method
                         can be used as a quasi-experimental interrupted time-series research design. Also, it can be used both
                         to generate hypotheses about spatial and temporal diffusion of a specific phenomenon, and to test
                         hypotheses within certain constraints. The applications in the study fail to yield statistically significant
                         results. However, they seem more successful in contributing to the prescriptive goal of the study by
                         showing how they may be useful in identifying the most important variables relating to the locational
                         decision for a nuclear enterprise.


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