Conflicts and barriers in decision-making with respect to nuclear waste management. Effects of deliberative procedures in internationally comparing perspectives

Project description

Today, negotiation-oriented forms of conflict management are a recognized instrument in managing conflicts about the employment of complex technologies where stakeholders get involved as much as civil society players and governmental organizations. The application of these forms of conflict management and the implementation of the corresponding results in robust decisions are, however, most difficult tasks and their success can hardly be guaranteed. The controversy on the management of highly radioactive waste has been an unsolved problem for more than 30 years in this context. The current state of research refers to conflicts between stakeholders and other actors involved in order to explain the patterns and effects of decision-making processes. Especially the difficulties in aggregating the stakeholders’ and actors’ different positions are a central focus in the analysis of processes of interest aggregation. These difficulties are also present in German and Swiss final disposal politics.

The effects of the various modes of decision-making which are part of the official final disposal policies in the two countries are analyzed by means of comparison of the two countries and are interpreted in relation to the public and the power industry’s discourse. Based on this, the employed deliberative elements that are meant to process the publically presented concerns are studied. Dialog-oriented forms of political negotiation are highly persuasive due to the necessity to aim at broadly supported final disposal policies under the condition of sharp public dispute between central stakeholders (political parties, NIMBY politics in the case of some stakeholders, etc.).

Conceptually, the research concept is based on arguments of governance research and of sociology of the public sphere.

It must be treated as a pending question if the dialog-oriented forms of political deliberation have positive effects on interest aggregation and on decision-making in this highly politicized conflict around nuclear waste management and if they can contribute to high-quality decision-making processes. Germany and Switzerland are both countries with substantial nuclear power quota, different political cultures, and professional expertise in the field of nuclear waste management. An analysis of the intended political reform concepts in those two countries allows the examination of the effects of the planned processes of argumentative weighing of interests in decision preparation as well as the ones of the following political decisions. A key question in this is whether the attempts to integrate the central stakeholders in the decision-making process do influence the interest aggregation, help to clarify the different alternatives in decision-making in a stepwise approach and if they systematically relate those alternatives to each other. Integrating forms of interest aggregation are to be rated as an important requirement in this context in order to take up the barriers in decision-making in a constructive way and to make them, in their own sense of logics, accessible to consulting.

Research co-operations are planned with the ETH Zurich, the Freie Universität Berlin and the Institute for Applied Ecology, Darmstadt.

This research project is loosely related to an activity that involves scientific political counseling, which is carried out by ITAS. Since 2006, Dr. Peter Hocke is a member of the "Expertengruppe Schweizer Tiefenlager" (EschT), an organization, which operates on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and that supports the regional German "Begleitkommission" (BeKo) and the BMU within the process of the Swiss sectoral plan for a final nuclear disposal site with statements and consulting services (see

In this context, the ITAS activities within the national controversy on final nuclear disposal are also relevant. On a national level, ITAS supported several dialog-oriented activities of the BMU that contributed to a civic processing of the German conflict on final nuclear disposal from March 2008 to December 2010 (Forum Endlager-Dialog, International "Endlager-Symposium" Berlin 2008). more


Stand der Arbeiten:

At present, the concept and the theoretical framework as well as the work division within the project are being developed further. A special focus is laid on the final nuclear disposal technologies and on the dimensions that are thereby relevant for technology assessment. Further publications are in progress.

The work of Sophie Kuppler (ITAS) for her PhD thesis is tightly linked to this project (Start: January 2010).


Hocke, P.; Renn, O.
Concerned public and the paralysis of decision-making: nuclear waste management policy in Germany. In: Journal of Risk Research 12/7+8(2009)7-8, S. 921-940

Hocke, P.; Grunwald, A.
Wohin mit dem radioaktiven Abfall? Perspektiven für eine sozialwissenschaftliche Endlagerforschung, Berlin (Reihe: Gesellschaft - Technik - Umwelt, Neue Folge Bd. 8). Neuauflage als Elektronisches Buch (Verlag: edition sigma; erschienen: 26.02.2009) (1.A.: 2006


Kuppler, S.
Die Entsorgung hoch-radioaktiver Abfälle - ein ganz normales Problem? Ergebnisse eines sozialwissenschaftlichen 2-Länder-Vergleichs
2015. Veranstaltungsreihe “Junge Talente - Wissenschaft und Musik” (2015), Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany, January 22, 2015 
Kuppler, S.
Merkpunkte für die Beurteilung komplexer Verfahren wie des Sachplans und hochwertiger Bürgerbeteiligung
2014. Fachgruppe Sicherheit der Regionalkonferenz Zürich Nordost, Zürich, CH, 10. September 2014 
Book Chapters
Gorokhov, V.
Risks of the modern technological civilization: social-political context and consequences of the development of ’peaceful uses of nuclear power’
2013. Efremenko, D.V. [Hrsg.] Modern Scientific-Technological Development and its Consequences: Problems of the Adaptation of Social Systems Moscow : INION RAN, 2013 (in russ.Sprache), 90–109 
Hocke, P.
Endlagerung hochradioaktiver Abfälle
2013. Grunwald, A. [Hrsg.] Handbuch Technikethik Stuttgart : Metzler’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2013, 263–268 
Hocke, P.; Kuppler, S.
Rising challenges in modern nuclear waste management: Complex political decision making processes not only in societies in transition
2013. Modern scientific-technological development and its consequences: Problems of the adaptation of social systems. Hrsg.: D.V. Efremenko, Efremenko, D.V. [Hrsg.] Modern Scientific-Technological Development and its Consequences: Problems of the Adaptation of Social Systems Moscow : INION RAN, 2013 (in russ.Sprache), 110–121, Inion ran 
Kuppler, S.
Public participation in nuclear waste management in Germany and Switzerland - Research process and methodology of an empirical case study
2013. Vortrag im Rahmen des Seminars ’Einführung in das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten und die empirische Sozialforschung’, Karlsruhe, 14. März, 2013 
Book Chapters
Grunwald, A.; Hocke-Bergler, P.
2012. Marquardt, N. [Hrsg.] Ortsregister : Ein Glossar zu Räumen der Gegenwart Bielefeld : transcript Verl., 2012, 57–63 
Kuppler, S.
Conflictual issues in nuclear waste disposal as discussed in major print-media in Germany and Switzerland
2012. Biennial Conf.of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), Copenhagen, DK, October 17-20, 2012 
Book Chapters
Hocke, O.; Renn, P.
Concerned public and the paralysis of decision-making: Nuclear waste management policy in Germany
2011. Nuclear waste management in a globalised world. Ed.: M. Strandberg, 43–62, Routledge 
Kuppler, S.
Der gesellschaftliche Umgang mit hochradioaktiven Abfällen. Analytische Grundlagen eines Ländervergleichs
2011. Entscheidungen mit Umweltfolgen zwischen Freiheit und Zwang. Tagungsband der 7. Tagung Nachwuchsgruppe Umweltsoziologie (NGU) der Universität Freiburg, Institut für Forstökonomie: Arbeitsbericht 55-2011. Hrsg.: F. Faber, Faber, F. [Hrsg.] Entscheidungen mit Umweltfolgen zwischen Freiheit und Zwang : Tagungsband der 7.Tagung der Nachwuchsgruppe Umweltsoziologie (NGU), Freiburg, 16.-18.September 2010 Freiburg : Albert Ludwigs Univ., 2011 (Arbeitsberich / Institut für Forstökonomie ; 55), 31–43, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg 
Hocke, P.
Lösungsansätze und Konflikte bei der nuklearen Endlagerung in der Schweiz und in Deutschland: Zur sozialwissenschaftlichen Perspektive auf ein vertracktes Problem
2011. IKET-Kolloquium, KIT, Karlsruhe, 13.Dezember 2011, Kolloquium des Instituts für Kern- und Energietechnik am KIT (2011), Karlsruhe, Germany, December 13, 2011 
Hocke, P.
Die soziale Dimension des Konflikts um die nukleare Entsorgung in Deutschland: Konzeptionelle Grundlagen TA-orientierter Forschung
2011. 3.SE-Seminar des Bundesamts für Strahlenschutz zu Sozialwissenschaftlichen Aspekten, Salzgitter, 5.Juli 2011, 3. SE-Seminar des Bundesamts für Strahlenschutz (BfS 2011), Salzgitter, Germany, July 5, 2011 
Hocke, P.
Experiences from Germany in public involvement. Conflicts and challenges during siting processes of nuclear waste repositories
2011. Public Involvement in Siting Nuclear Facilities : OECD-NEA Conf., Paris, F, February 15-16, 2011 
Hocke, P.; Kuppler, S.
Societal approaches to conflict management in nuclear waste disposal. Lessons learned from the German case
2011. Societal Approaches to Nuclear Waste Management : Stockholm Spring Talks, Stockholm, S, May 3-4, 2011 
Kuppler, S.
Lehren aus dem Endlagerkonflikt in Deutschland: Merkpunkte für ein ziviles Auswahlverfahren
2011. 3. SE-Seminar des Bundesamts für Strahlenschutz (BfS 2011), Salzgitter, Germany, July 5, 2011 
Kuppler, S.
Deliberation as a tool in mitigating the social conflict on nuclear waste? A case study on the governance of nuclear waste disposal in Germany and Switzerland
2011. 10th Conf.of the European Sociological Association: Social Relations in Turbulent Times, Geneve, CH, September 7-10, 2011 
Journal Articles
Hocke, P.; Barth, R.; Grunwald, A.; Kallenbach-Herbert, B.; Kuppler, S.; Renn, O.; Reuß, M.
Schlüsselentscheidungen und -maßnahmen für einen gehaltvollen Dialogprozess
2010. Technikfolgenabschätzung - Theorie und Praxis, 19 (3), 91–97 
Eckhardt, J. D.; Hocke, P.
Stellungnahme der ESchT zur ersten Etappe des Schweizer Standortauswahlverfahrens für ein geologisches Tiefenlager
2010. Informationsveranstaltung zum geplanten geologischen Tiefenlager für radioaktive Abfälle in der Schweiz, Singen, 28.September 2010 
Hocke, P.
Partizipation und Standortdefinition, bisherige Planungen zu raumordnerischen und sozio-ökonomischen Auswirkungen. Nicht-technische Aspekte der ESchT-Stellungnahme
2010, May 11. ESchT-Informationsveranstaltung Schweizerischer Sachplan geologische Tiefenlager (Expertengruppe-Schweizer-Tiefenlager 2010), Bad Säckingen, Germany, May 11, 2010 
Hocke, P.
Die Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle als soziales Problem
2010. Tag der Offenen Tür, KIT Campus Nord, Karlsruhe, 25.September 2010 
Hocke, P.
Endlagerung - ein technikwissenschaftliches oder ein soziales Problem?
2010. Kernenergie - vielleicht doch? : Vortragsreihe der Akademie für Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung, Karlsruhe, 9.März 2010 
Kallenbach-Herbert, B.; Hocke, P.
Dialog- und Beteiligungsmaßnahmen bei der Endlagerung hochradioaktiver Abfälle
2010. 42.Kraftwerkstechnisches Kolloquium, Dresden, 12.-13.Oktober 2010 
Kuppler, S.
Der gesellschaftliche Umgang mit hochradioaktiven Abfällen. Ein Ländervergleich
2010. Entscheidungen mit Umweltfolgen zwischen Freiheit und Zwang : 7.Tagung der Nachwuchsgruppe Umweltsoziologie (NGU), Freiburg, 16.-18.September 2010 
Kuppler, S.; Hocke, P.
Managing Nuclear Waste in Modern Societies : A Comparative Perspective
2010. EASST-Conference (EASST 2010), Trento, Italy, September 2–4, 2010 
Hocke, P.
Nuclear waste storage in Germany - a technological or a social problem?
2009. Workshop ’Nuclear Waste Management Policy: Lessons from the German Debate’, Lisboa, P, October 13, 2009 
Hocke, P.
Pfade mit und ohne Wiederaufarbeitung. Zentrale Fragen der Risikoabwägung
2009. Vortr.: Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, 27.Februar 2009 


Dr. Peter Hocke
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26893