The National Politics of Nuclear Power: Economics, Security, and Governance, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The National Politics of Nuclear Power

Economics, Security, and Governance, 1st Edition

By Benjamin K. Sovacool, Scott Victor Valentine


312 pages

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This book offers a comprehensive assessment of the dynamics driving, and constraining, nuclear power development in Asia, Europe and North America, providing detailed comparative analysis.

The book formulates a theory of nuclear socio-political economy which highlights six factors necessary for embarking on nuclear power programs: (1) national security and secrecy, (2) technocratic ideology, (3) economic interventionism, (4) a centrally coordinated energy stakeholder network, (5) subordination of opposition to political authority, and (6) social peripheralization. The book validates this theory by confirming the presence of these six drivers during the initial nuclear power developmental periods in eight countries: the United States, France, Japan, Russia (the former Soviet Union), South Korea, Canada, China, and India. 

The authors then apply this framework as a predictive tool to evaluate contemporary nuclear power trends. They discuss what this theory means for developed and developing countries which exhibit the potential for nuclear development on a major scale, and examine how the new "renaissance" of nuclear power may affect the promotion of renewable energy, global energy security, and development policy as a whole. The volume also assesses the influence of climate change and the recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, on the nuclear power industry’s trajectory.  

This book will be of interest to students of energy policy and security, nuclear proliferation, international security, global governance and IR in general.


"All too often, discussions about whether or not a country might embark on or expand nuclear power revolve around projections of electricity and energy demand into the (far) future and the falling reserves of fossil fuels. In some cases, speculations about whether the country might be harboring nuclear weapon ambitions play a part. But, as Sovacool and Valentine argue convincingly, a great many other considerations play important roles in determining the trajectory of nuclear power in countries. This line of inquiry is vitally important today as nuclear power faces an uncertain – and geographically diverse – future in the aftermath of the Fukushima accidents." -- M. V. Ramana, Princeton University, USA

"This timely and original book develops a socio-political economic theory to explore the continuing fascination and commitment to nuclear energy in eight countries in Asia, Europe and North America. It is a book that must be read by all those - professionals, politician, academics and citizens - fascinated by the present dilemmas and future prospects of nuclear power." -- Andrew Blowers, Open University, UK

"In their holistic investigation of the myriad factors that give rise to nuclear energy programs and that sustain them over time Sovacool and Valentine have filled a major lacuna in the literature on nuclear power. Too often the discourse is dominated by economists and energy analysts who neglect the bigger picture. Political, social and cultural drivers and constraints can be just as determinative as the price of uranium or the overnight costs of building a nuclear power plant. By adopting an "inductive, grounded, comparative" case studies of eight leading nuclear energy countries the two authors not only illuminate commonalities but provide valuable insights into the unique characteristics of each case." -- Trevor Findlay, Harvard University, USA

"A salient contribution to the field, Sovacool and Valentine provide a novel interdisciplinary analysis encompassing a wide range of social, political, market and ideological factors affecting the development and deployment of nuclear technology. The comprehensive approach gives readers an exceptionally clear assessment of how nuclear power has developed, and continues to evolve, in a variety of different markets." -- Antony Froggatt, Chatham House, London, UK.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2.An Introduction to Nuclear Power Technology 3. United States 4. France 5. Japan 6. Russia (former Soviet Union) 7. South Korea 8. Canada 9. China 10. India 11. Conclusion Appendix: Major accidents and incidents at nuclear power facilities

About the Authors

Benjamin K. Sovacool is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute for Energy and Environment at Vermont Law School, where he manages the Energy Security and Justice Program. He is editor, author, or co-author of nine books, including the Routledge Handbook of Energy Security (2010).

Scott Victor Valentine is Associate Professor and Associate Director of the International Master of Public Policy Program at the Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo, Japan. He has a Ph.D. from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

About the Series

Routledge Global Security Studies

Global Security Studies is a series for cutting-edge monographs and books on international security. It emphasizes cutting-edge scholarship on the forces reshaping global security and the dilemmas facing decision-makers the world over. The series stresses security issues relevant in many countries and regions, accessible to broad professional and academic audiences as well as to students, and enduring through explicit theoretical foundations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Arms Control
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy