Political Mediation in Nuclear Waste Management: a Foucauldian Perspective

Erik Laes (Corresponding author), Gunter Bombaerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper aims to open up high-level waste management practices to a political philosophical questioning, beyond the enclosure implied by the normative ethics approaches that prevail in the literature. Building on previous insights derived from mediation theory (in particular the work of Verbeek and Dorrestijn), Foucault and science and technology studies (in particular Jasanoff’s work on socio-technical imaginaries), mediation theory’s appropriation of Foucauldian insights is shown to be in need of modification and further extension. In particular, we modify Dorrestijn’s figure of “technical determination of power relations” to better take into account the (literal and figurative) aspects of imagination, and complement Dorrestijn’s work with the figures of techno-scientific mediation, and the inherently political figures of socio-technical and state-technical mediation, both based on Foucault’s notion of governmentality. Our analysis implies that the practical implementation of a high-level nuclear waste (HLW) management strategy will require the “stitching together” of these different mediations, which is an inherently political task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1309
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophy & Technology
Issue number4
Early online date11 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
T he empirical research performed for this paper was part of the SCALINGS (“Scaling up Co-creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation research project”), funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement 788359.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Foucault
  • Mediation theory
  • Nuclear waste
  • Power


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