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Deliberative decision-making on radioactive waste management in Finland, France and the UK: influence of mixed forms of deliberation in the macro discursive context

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:47 authored by Markku Lehtonen
This article analyses the nature and role of recently established deliberative and participatory mechanisms of planning and decision-making on radioactive waste management in three countries that have recently committed to extending their nuclear capacity Finland, France and the UK. The article introduces the micro and macro theories of deliberative democracy, and by relying on the distinction between the normative, substantive and instrumental functions of participation examines the degrees to which the different deliberative mechanisms succeeded in bridging the boundary between the micro and macro deliberation. The empirical analysis illustrates how the functions and the influence of these mechanisms have been conditioned by the broader macro discursive sphere, within which the mixed forms of deliberation take place. Elements of all three functions of participation could be identified to varying degrees in all cases, yet the direct impact of deliberation on policy outcomes was often modest and uncertain. In contrast, the analysis highlights the indirect impacts of deliberation, notably through the creation of norms of deliberative democracy, on the one hand, and the need to consider the broader macro discursive sphere when designing processes and institutions of deliberation, on the other hand. The case studies suggest that the control over knowledge production as well as the trust in government institutions were pivotal in explaining the influence of deliberation in the three countries.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences




Taylor & Francis





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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