Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Marc Los Huertos

Reader 2

Dalton Krauss

Reader 3

Vanessa Tyson

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Rights Information

© 2017 Emma McElroy


My thesis traces policy developments in the nuclear power sector in the Republic of France, which is the most dependent country on nuclear energy in the world. The country’s particular brand of elitism, their highly centralized and technocratic government, their reputation for an extremely low rate of carbon emissions, and their discriminatory treatment of immigrants, refugees, and low-income communities all complicate this issue. I limit the scope of my analysis to changes in nuclear policy during the past ten years, under the leadership of Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and as of May 2017, Emmanuel Macron. Using a policy science framework, I diagnose the points wherein the nuclear energy policy process has malfunctioned, which has rendered it stagnant and ineffective. By adding an environmental justice lens, I show the ways in which the nuclear industry and its advocates perpetuate social and economic inequities. I begin with Sarkozy and his politicization of nuclear energy during a time in which public resistance was growing, thus reaffirming utilitarian principles, colonial hierarchies, systems of exploitation, and the elitism of government. While Fukushima presented a window of opportunity for the country to advocate and lobby for an energy diversification, Sarkozy used the media exposure to his advantage to propagate the economic benefits of nuclear energy, which are discredited by my research. While the socialist party historically stands in ideological opposition to nuclear energy, their complicated relationship with various nuclear institutions and their poor public image inhibited Hollande’s ability to decrease France’s shares of nuclear energy. France’s newly-elected president, centralist Emmanuel Macron, could very well be the political leader that unpacks and remedies deeply embedded problems in the nuclear energy policy process, but it is perhaps to soon to tell. The institutionalization of neo-colonialism, the principle of value-maximization, the increasing party polarization, and the notions of elitism in the French government constrain it and any of its representatives from disrupting and reinvigorating the corrupted policy process. However previous successes at the local level through grassroots mobilization suggest that the tables could turn under a new government and an urgent need to transition to renewables.

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