Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Policy Feedback and Public Opinion: Local Acceptance of Nuclear Power in China

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Yue Guo and Jun Su, Tsinghua University
Nuclear technology, because of its controversies, has become the typical case for the research on interaction between science and technology. It is indeed that public acceptance has become a key factor in the process of nuclear technology deployment since Fukushima nuclear accident. According to the theory of the STS, knowledge enables the public to treat nuclear power rationally and promotes public acceptance, so there is no doubt to vigorously push forward public understanding of science activity.       Based on the large scale questionnaire survey in two cities which are planning to build nuclear power station, Huludao and Shanwei, this study tries to answer the following research questions by multiple regression analysis and propensity score matching method. 1) Which factors will influence the public’s acceptance to nuclear power? 2) Could public opinion be influenced by the governments’ work on public communication, thus to promote public acceptability? The conclusions of the research are as follows:

 (1) There are three kinds of policy instruments taken by the governments to promote public acceptance of nuclear power: popularization of science knowledge, political mobilization and public involvement. The policy of popularization of science knowledge aims to promote the public’s scientific understanding of nuclear power by optimizing public knowledge structure. The goal of political mobilization is to stimulate the public’s collectivism. The objective of public participation is to strengthen the public’s trust in the governments, enterprises, scientists and media groups.  

 (2) During the internal cognitive process, public acceptance of nuclear power is not only affected by risk-benefit perception of nuclear power but also by emotion perception and social trust of nuclear programs. It means that the public’s knowledge does not influence their acceptance of nuclear energy significantly.

 (3) The effects of three policy instruments are also different. As two kinds of policy instrument, political mobilization and public participation help to promote public acceptance, while popularization of science knowledge fails to do that effectively. Political mobilization is conducive to strengthening the public’s collectivism and their emotion perception of nuclear programs. Public involvement contributes to promoting social trust, while popularization of science could not effectively encourage the public to promote related knowledge to accept nuclear power. As an authoritarian state, Chinese government has strong mobilization ability, which can shape public opinion by many kinds of policy instruments and bring policy feedback among the public.