Social Construction of Nuclear Risks: Analysis of Institutional Communicative Discourses on Astravets Nuclear Power Plant

  • Vidas Vilčinskas
Keywords: discourse analysis, Astravets Nuclear Power Plant, Nvivo, content analysis, nuclear risk communication


The paper is located within scholarly fields of risk sociology and nuclear risk communication. It employs the Belarusian Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP) case to show how political entities discursively construct the understanding of nuclear risks. The BelNPP is an important case in a broader European region, and especially – for Belarus and Lithuania, due to its debated safety and impacts. The analysis of political institutional communicative discourses, as taking place in the national governments and parliaments in Belarus and Lithuania, was performed as part of the master thesis research. The empirical basis consisted of 132 texts, published during 2012–2017 and defined as official institutional press releases. The theoretical explanatory model included theories of discursive institutionalism, agenda-setting and issue-framing. The results show that the discourse is dominated by the ‘safety’ topic. The Belarusian discourse more frequently communicates BelNPP in a detailed technical manner and dominant frames attenuate the associated risks. The Lithuanian discourse focuses on political aspects and uses issue frames that amplify the socially constructed risk.