Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gabriel P. Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Dr. Julia L. Perilla

Third Advisor

Dr. Fred P. Brooks

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kelly M. Lewis

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Marci R. Culley

Abstract

The US anti-nuclear movement formed in opposition to the development of nuclear weapons and energy. Anti-nuclear activists have rallied since the late 1970’s opposed to the construction of Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia due to the social and environmental justice issues related to the nuclear industry. In 2010, the nuclear industry proposed a nuclear resurgence in the US, proposing to construct new reactors at Plant Vogtle. This represented the first time new nuclear reactors had been proposed since the moratorium on new reactors as a result of the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. The aim of the study is to understand the experience of “first wave” anti-nuclear activists in Georgia (those engaged for twenty years or more). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Framework was employed to locate anti-nuclear activists’ perceived facilitators and barriers to their activism. Semi-structured interviews with these activists yielded rich descriptions about their experience in the anti-nuclear movement. Activists endorsed facilitators and barriers related to individual characteristics however, the majority of activists perceived facilitators and barriers beyond the individual level. Specifically, the majority of activists mentioned facilitators and barriers relating to the media and political systems and the power and resource imbalances within society. The role of community psychology is discussed in relation to this field of inquiry.

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