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22 Seiten, Note: 2,3
Table of content
2.1. Sociological concepts of risk
2.2. Systemic risk approach
2.3. Political deciding
2.4. Risk communication
3. Social movements
3.1. Social movements in the political system
3.3. Risk construction of social movements
4. The anti-nuclear-movement
4.1. Risk perception of nuclear energy
4.2. The anti-nuclear-movement as new social movement
4.3. Risk construction and political impact
This paper examines the influence of social movements on the social construction of risks. I will study the different concepts of risk from the perspective of the sociological systems theory. I will argue, that the modern society has just become modern because of its specific risks, which can be called evolutionary risks. The society is accessible to protest, especially when the protest is addressed against political decisions fraught with risk, that are not influenceable by the public. So the next step is to examine the constitution of social movements and their communication about risk. Social movements act in the periphery of the political system and select topics for the political agenda. Their risk communication is based on fear, by which they can differentiate from the rationality of the political system. In the last part, I will come to the German anti-nuclear-movement, in which the former conclusions accumulate. This movement communicated with a moralist perspective about the evolutionary risk of using nuclear energy and started by that fundamental discussion on its society’s values.
With the words “It is not very probable, that in the modern society, one lives more dangerous than in former societies; but the risk has become a normal concomitant phenomenon of everyday action” (1993: 327), Niklas Luhmann accurately describes the development of the sociological concept of risk. Doubtless, it is no new or even surprising fact, that the society is confronted with insecurity in operations and decisions. But risk has only become a matter of sociological research, because it takes part in the everyday cognition. And this is just an event of modern society’s younger history.
This paper connects two newer areas of sociological studies: on the one hand, the sociology of risk, and on the other hand, the sociology of new social movements, which has become an established part of sociological debates. I will build the bridge with the basis of the sociological systems theory, the constructivism.
Let me start with one basic presumption: risks of the modern society are constructed. But who constructs them and why? Why does the public only notice some risks as what they are, while others are seen only as social or however natured problems? And when and under which circumstances does the political system intervene, why are risks cognised by the politics and what can they do? These are some of the basic questions of my paper.
As a theoretical frame, I will adduct on of the two risk sociological “major theories” (Grundmann 1999: 44), which is the systemic risk sociology of Niklas Luhmann. Hereby, I will be responsive to different ways to describe and contain the term of risk; for that, I have to go into some basic concepts of the modern society, as the are e.g. functionally differentiation, systemic boundaries etc. In the following, I will attend on communication and knowledge about risk. I will focus on the different ways of the political system and the society to broach the issue of risk and to decide under its influence.
Afterwards, the social movements will be embraced. For that, I will first research their constitution and afterwards their role in constructing risks. Here it is important, if risks, that are constructed by a social movement is percepted in a different way as other risks are, and how the communication about these risks is. I will also ask, what influences social movements have on the political system by constructing risks and selecting political matters. It is also interesting, how the politics take decisions when they were brought to them by the actions of a social movement.
Concluding, these abstract results are applied to the German anti-nuclear-power movement. I took this example, because the public cognition of the risk that results from the use of nuclear energy has changed massively under the influence of this movement. It is also interesting to examine this example, because the movement made such an interesting development, which became manifest in the foundation of the green party and their step into the German parliament.
This part gives the risk-sociological background for the following analysis. The basis of a sociology of risk was established by Niklas Luhmann and Ulrich Beck, whose books “Risikogesellschaft” (Beck 1986) and “Ökologische Kommunikation” (Luhmann 1986) attracted most attention in the sociological community. In this paper, I will only discuss the systemic approach.
Doubtless, the society is confronted with risks, which have changed as well in their quality as in their threat potential. This should be the central reason for the possible risks of using the modern major technologies became topic of the social communication since the middle of the 1970s (cf. Bechmann 1993: VII).
There is an objective cut the social cognition of risk, that happened much earlier than this. The beginning of the age of capitalism meant the end of different collective systems of individual security (e.g. guilds and crafts), which were afterwards displaced by the private insurances. To those it is possible to calculate the possibility of the occurrence of a claim as a result of their experiences and by that, to calculate a ‘risk’ (cf. Japp 2000: 6f., detailed Bonß 1995: ch. I).
The end of calculating risks was given by the implementation of technologies, which are fraught with such a high risk, that the possible danger is maybe even calculable in the economic aspect, but may have massive social damages, so that it is practically incalculable. These risks need a more specific concept, because they are no longer grasped by the item of the insurances. Krohn and Krücken (1993:21) establish for this risks the term of “evolutionary risks”.
Because the term of the evolutionary risks is a good frame for the systemic approach of risk, I will give a short summary of it and come back later to its single parts. Evolutionary risks occur in a context, and at the same time, change it. They can not be predicted to the future on the basis of past damaging events, so that also in the social perception of the insecurity of the future rises up. There is nearly no scientific possibility of technological impact assessment, which can keep up with the progress of technological innovation. Secondly, when you have to deal with evolutionary risks, the uncertainty is no longer according to the possible danger, but upon “what is the uncertainty” (Krohn/Krücken 1993: 23). Thirdly, the evolutionary risks deflect from the deciders to the persons concerned, who cannot decide about taking the risk or not. Fourthly, evolutionary risks are more difficult to understand for the society and so they have to compete in the social cognition with the appraisal of laymen. This leads to a polarization (cf. ibid.: 21-24).
The systemic risk approach is founded in its patterns of society. The modern society is functionally differenced and it is this differentiation, that can be seen as the reason of producing risks. So this approach differs for example to Beck’s approach, who sees this reason in the technological and economic modernization. The society’s functionally systems develop a momentum, that makes it impossible to notify about the effects of a specific decision in the environment of the system. The reason for this is the systems’ operative closeness. Because of this, every decision has to be found on the basis of several ambiguities and under the influence of high complexity (cf. Japp 1990: 35 et seq.).
This leads to a dialectic for the system in multiple aspects. First, under the circumstances of the functionally differentiation a system can arrange not that good with changes in its environment, but at the same time it causes them. Secondly, the differentiation makes it possible “to come on a higher level of sensitivity and learning aptitude by abstractly coding and functionally specification of the system” (Luhmann 2004: 209 et seq.). At this point, the first attitude of the evolutionary risks comes to wear, which is the embedment into a context changed by the system at the same time, which is irreconcilable to those, who have to deal with the risk, because it is that complex.
Japp (2000: 80) assumes, that “the functionally differenced society in its structural assembling makes itself possible by taking risks”. However, this is a circular statement, because the uncertainty of decisions which are notified as risks, can just emerge because of the functionally differentiation and the linked augmentation of complexity.
While the actual differentiation of a functionally system happens because of the binary code of its communications, there are programs of the system on a deeper second level. By this programs, the system is in the ability to operationalize the codes. On this level, the system can so to speak learn and accommodate to the demands of the systems’ environment (cf. Luhmann 2004: 91). This is important in that way, that the internal differentiation makes it possible to handle resonance. These are essential to broach the issue on risks, which are the mean of communications in one system, in a second system.
The society cannot observe itself ‘from outside’. Luhmann elaborates for that: “A System can only see, what it can see. It cannot see, what it cannot see. It also cannot see, that it can not see, what it cannot see” (Luhmann 2004: 52). The society and its functionally systems are dependent on the mode of second-order observation, which means the observation of other observers. While the system observes its boundaries, it puts all its operations of confining contingent. So the system’s complexity rises accessorily. Although this complexity holds risks as well for decisions as for selections, the functionally systems are constrained to the second-order observation, because only this mode assures the contingency, which is essential for the system’s self-reference (cf. Japp 2000: 79 et seq.).
An Analysis of the system’s situation and possibilities of decisions are taken on the background of risk perspectives and this can only occur in the mode of second-order observation. As well the distinction between risk and danger as the distinction between deciders and persons concerned, is taken from the perspective of an observer of the observation of exactly these distinctions (cf. Luhmann 1991: 235 et seq.). When a system observes another one, it does not only achieve possibilities of taking a difference for its own perception. It is also possible to discern the references and restrictions of other systems (cf. Luhmann 2004: 53). When these are processed by the observing system, this can have consequences for the risk communication.
The mode of observation also situates in the attribution of causality. We can distinguish “the manner of attribution of the agent (=first-order observation) and of the observer (=second-order observation)” (Luhmann 2004: 57). The attribution of causality is determinated by the society’s functionally differentiation. In the pre-capitalist societies you can see a quite trivial fragmentation in primary concerned people in the underclass, while the aristocratic upper class comes to the decisions and is accountable for them (cf. ibid.: 100). Such an attribution is no more possible in the modern society, because in a functionally differenced society there is no central accountable instance.
The question of accountability plays an important role for the central difference of the systemic risk approach, which is the difference of risk and danger. Both mean an insecurity about possible later losses; in the case of risk, the occurrence of a loss is attributed to own operations, in the case of risk it is attributed to the operations in the environment. Here it is becoming clearer, why the modern society is confronted with risks, which are qualitative changed in such a manner. Taking risks means to bring the possible dangers to mind and this is only then possible, if there are alternatives to the own operations. These alternatives are generated by technological process and on the background of the massive rise of the innovation’s pace, the change of the risk cognition is accountable (cf. Luhmann 1988: 269).
Risks are acts of decisions, in which “a possible loss is taken for a benefit’s sake” (Luhmann 1991: 135). Decisions that are fraught with risks are taken considering to the idea, that advantages can sometimes be achieved only by putting something on the line. As aforementioned, the possible costs are not distinct calculable because of the complexity and contingency of the system’s environment (cf. Luhmann 1991: 19). The functionally systems of the modern society have always to deal with risks and they have to live with them, elaborates Luhmann (1988: 270). The consequence of this thought is significant. Because every system has to live with risks and has to take them together – for the example of building a nuclear power plant: the science system explores, the political system allows and the economy pays – the exactly attribution of decisions becomes quite difficult. But to the systems, that cuts the danger of getting prosecuted in case of a loss (ibid.).
As Luhmann elaborates, all political decisions are afflicted with insecurity. This is a part of the constructivist base-logic, which says, that a decision is always determined by the difference of two constructions of the future. One assumes, that the decision was taken, the other one assumes no or a different decision. Constructing the different alternatives is always “on the own risk” of the political deciders (Luhmann 2000: 146). Every construction of a system’s future does, to take the aforesaid difference, not happen in the mode of risk, but in the mode of danger. The reason for this is, that the insecurity is not only determined by the decisions of the system, but from many factors, which can not be affected by the system. One example is the climate change, which cannot be regulated in the frame of national politics (cf. Luhmann 1990: 167).
Political communications on decisions occur always on two levels. The first one is the level of the actually taken decision, which gets social existence only because it is communicated. The second level is the one ‘behind’ the decision, which means the motivation and ideals, that are eventually crystallised out in the system of the modern political parties. That is the level, which is mostly perceived in the public view (cf. Luhmann 2000: 166 et seq.).
Seeking expertise often leads to detention of decision processes, because in the modern society there are many alternatives for operations, which are deliberated without coming to a decision. The reason for this is the rationality of the political system to handle risks. When there are expectations communicated on the political system, to whose satisfaction the politics had to take measures which are afflicted with risk, they will – as long as possible – act decision-rational. That means: (letting) discuss all possible operations, but do not decide. So uncertainness can not be understood as an objective degree of informational deficit, but as a “intrasystem constructed indicator of insecurity of expectations” (cf. Japp 1992: 38).
So we see, that „in phases of insecurity ... the meaning of experts rises up” (Bonß 1995: 23). However, seeking expertise is in numerous cases just a tactical act of the political system to conceal its own disability or reluctance of taking a decision. The knowledge of experts is at this point only meant as scientific- objective knowledge. To the political system, it has the advantage, that it can be revised e.g. by counter assessment. Because this possibility is always given, the political system can retard its decisions in this way. On the other hand, the political system does not have to take up the knowledge in its decisions. The possibility of amendment is only given for knowledge, decisions can be conclusive und not revisable (cf. Luhmann 2000: 433).
Seeing this multiple dimensions of sociological concepts of risk and its consequences for social arrangements, it is coherent to see risk as “one of the … most prominent topics for the self-discussing of the modern society” (Kneer/Nassehi 2000: 167). In the political discussion, every decision holds a risk, and the political system has to discover mechanism to handle them. In the foregoing part of this paper, I presented one of them: the avoidance of risk-afflicted decisions. Accordingly, you have to devise two types of risk communication: first, communications about decisions, to which the deciders have come under risk, and secondly, the phrasing of risks in a social context.
Risk communication does not broach the issue of the occurrence of a loss, but the attribution of damage events on people’s action (cf. Kneer/Nassehi 2000: 168). Communication about risk is irrational in the view of common understanding. It works with fear, which you cannot be marked down with rational arguments and scientific knowledge. If fear has come to the communication of the society or the specific systems, you can no longer control it (cf. Luhmann 2004: 238 et seq.). This also means, that a scientific consideration of possible loss events is doomed a priori when it should antagonise social constructed fear. Although it is based on a different theoretical basis, to this idea works Ulrich Beck’s phrase: “The safety of chance misleads” (1988: 103). In the systemic view, communication that is based on fears does not need a really existent fear, because such a feeling cannot be detected objectively. This attribute makes “fear-based topics attractive for a communication, which wants do observe and describe the functionally systems from outside, but still inside of the society” (Luhmann 2004: 240).
On this background, it is not really surprising, that those, who can articulate (and by that use) the fear in the best way, have the best chance to receive supporters for his point of view. Especially the political system, which comes to its decisions balanced and ensured by the knowledge of experts, is confronted with the problem, that it does not take the public fears seriously enough to establish understanding for its decisions. The communication about risky decisions is always with the reservation of the possible sanctions voting out. So to the politics it is just coherent not to decide or to adjourn a decision. On the other hand, social agents like social movements can use the potential of fear communication unrestrained, because they do not have operational enforcements. Fear cannot be canonised, but wrong political decisions. This venture drops, when they communicate about risks under the aspect of fear.
The implementation of high-technological constructions has always consequences for the social processes of a community. When “the society becomes the laboratory” (Japp 1992: 35), this doubtless leads to social conflicts that make political solutions compulsory. The formation of citizens’ action groups and the so-called new social movements shows, that these conflicts are especially since the 1970s no longer are solved in the big political business, but on the level of smaller communities (cf. Bechmann 1990: 127 et seq., Wüstenhagen 1976: 1360 et seqq.).
At first, we have to find an answer on the question, where in the political system the social movements are grounded. The democratic System is firstly orientated on its code of having power and having no power and has secondly a “supercoding” (Lange 2003: 176) of government and opposition. All social movements agitate outside of the parliaments, so they cannot underlie this supercoding. The get into a situation of “taking part and be against” (Luhmann 1990b: 156), in which the movements can articulate, what compunctions they have, but cannot convert them into power-centred policy. Cases of some European green parties, that cleared the huddle to the parliaments, are the exception.
As protest movements cannot act inside the political system and cannot participate in taking the decisions, they assist as observers of the political system and can have bearing on the political agenda. They are located in the political system’s periphery, as Luhmann calls it for the new social movements a “new periphery” (2000: 316). Assuming political responsibility, which means with Luhmann democratic power, is the tasks of the parliaments – this is accepted by the social movements. But there, the movements’ ideas and concepts are affiliated, transformed to decisions and laws and get transposed in administrative operations. By that, it is accountable, that parliament external movements can use the instrument of fear communication and find supporters of their so communicated ideas.
Social movements compose in the periphery of the political system. As the established political organisations are in constant person exchange with the constitutional institutions, there is a consequent demand for participation on the agenda-setting for topics from the external of the political system. Social movements can achieve this because of their major candour (cf. Luhmann 2000: 315). The new social movements are no longer focussed on just one functionally system as it was e.g. the early socialist workers’ movement. So it is possible to them to broach the issue on their topics and generate consternation (cf. Japp 1993: 386).
The internal organisation of social movements is unincisive, they are neither interaction systems nor organisations in the narrow sense. They do not define by affiliation, but by a – often diffuse – interest. The appraisement, that „it should look like the estimation appeals and protests on itself” (Luhmann 2000: 315), can be illustrated by taking a look on the anti-globalisation protests, where left- and national radicals march side by side, and act on the same assumption – that of being against.
Protest movements do not have a binary code for their systemic differentiation, but differentiate by taking part or taking not part in the protest. This is determined by the topic of protest (cf. Luhmann 1994: 177). As all autopoietic systems, social movements depend on keeping the difference. Finally, this works by conducting a “quite chaste and concrete fixation of goals and postulates, an accordant discrimination of followers and opponents and an accordant moralist appraisement” (Luhmann 2004: 234). To Luhmann, this moralist communication is a problem. Social movements support the self-description of the modern society, because they have the ability to describe the dysfunctions of their opponents in the other functionally systems with an external view. Because of their moralist communication, they do not (and even cannot) account the intrasystem rationalities (cf. Luhmann 1994: 190 et seq.). An example for this is the Gorleben-activists’ animadversion on the ‘Atomkonsens’ of the red-green federal government: the moralist protest against the use of nuclear power ignores the inherent necessities of a coalition.
Luhmann defines protest as a “communications, that are addressed to others and remind their accountability” (1991: 135. accentuation in the original). Such communications can only attain, when they create consternation, often also consternation for persons concerned. This is the basis of the protests’ argumentative structure. Mostly, social movements have a “myth” (Luhmann 1994: 182). For the ecological movement this was for instance the accident in Harrisburg or later Chernobyl. These myths do not have to be real occurrences. If you take a look at the German Red-Army-Fraction, this movement had stick together because of the rumours of torture and murder in Stammheim.
Naming the new social movements has to do with their topics. The form ‘protest’ can bee seen in a longer term, but the modern society is confronted with “a new type of protest: the decline of situations, in which they can become the victim of the risky behaviour of others” (Luhmann 1991: 146). At this point, we can recover the keyword of “evolutionary risks” from the foresaid chapter: the rise of new, practically incalculable dangers, which are perceived in their complexity and contingency as incomprehensible and hazardous in the society.
Constructions that determine the pettishness of a society for the case of a loss, always depend on their context (cf. Luhmann 1991: 111). At this point, civilian agents get the possibility of affecting this determinants. It is the main task of social movements to articulate social problems and put them into the public view. If the movement has the accordant assumptions, it can have massive influence on the sensibility perspective of a society.
The observation of the society by the social movements is characterized by a central paradox: “The ‘new social movements’ must practice their observations and descriptions inside the society, but they do as if it was from outside” (Luhmann 1986b: 75). This paradox can be dissolved with the model of second- order observation. The society observes, how it is observed by the social movements, and in observing the protest against itself, it can describe (cf. Luhmann 1991: 148).
The social movements attract attention only by the mass media. Those can be reached best by conflict and relate to this mostly. By their coverage, the public opinion becomes pre-structured (cf. Luhmann 2000: 132). Mass media do not have preferences to a specific content or moralist view when they report on high-technological projects. They can acclaim them or convict or make them to the topic of a debate and so on. So when a movement can conventionalise a conflict and reach by that the attention of the mass media, its topic will soon become an affair of building a public opinion (cf. Luhmann 1991: 152). To reach the public attention, social movements are under the pressure to satisfy the interest of the media, e.g. with spectacular actions or large-scale demonstrations (cf. Raschke 1985: 343).
On the other hand, the political system constantly observes the public opinion. The agents of the political system act on the assumption, that the opinion of the citizens is formed by the media, independent from personal ‘disruptive factors’ (like political preferences etc.). Because the politics get their legitimation from the voting peoples’ acceptance, the observation of public’s opinion is only reasonable. Also, the political system gets by the media information about the society’s problems can go about them (Fuchs/Pfetsch 1996: 113 et seq.). The media’s broadcasting also gives a clue how large the pressure to act is, which means if a decision has to be taken.
When we merge these cognitions, we can see, that social movements are taking influence on the political selection of problems, when they take the way by the mass media. When the media observe the movements and the political system sees the observation of the protest as an observation of its own, it can get under pressure and become active. The modern mass media “integrate the protest” (Luhmann 1991: 152), although they effectuate a faster abrasion of the movement’s topics.
The attention of the new social movements concentrates on abstract dangers, which means apparently threatening risks. Their exact appraisal cannot be done by the movement. They push for common control of the high-technologies, that are in their own – and when the movement acts effective, in the social – view noncontrollable. This is the area of conflict in which we can see the difference between the technological view on risks (that reduces insecurity to implausibility) and an estimation of risk connected to the context (for which the insecurity is in the fore) (cf. Japp 1993: 392 et seq.).
Klein and Falter (2003: 21) see the beginning of the German ecological movement in the publication of the club of Rome’s theses on the “Limits of Growth” (1972) and see in the following time the beginning of a critical discussion about economic growth, technological progress and environmental impact. Under these circumstances, there some local action groups formed with acting against local major projects. These are the roots of the German anti-nuclear movement (cf. Mittermüller 1987: 86). This part of the ecological movement had in the late 1970s “doubtless the widest base, the most spectacular conflicts and the most extensive political influence” (Rucht 1980: 74).
In the post-war period, which is the beginning of the civil use of nuclear power in western Germany, the public mood on that type of energy was quite different. On the one hand, the military use of nuclear energy was refused, especially under the influence of the just elapsed war and the pictures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The public opinion drew a line between the atomic annihilation and the peaceful use in nuclear power plants (cf. Rucht 1980: 74f.). On the other hand, the common knowledge was up to the 70s quite marginal. But as most of the technological progress, it was seen predominantly positive (cf. Renn 1984: 204 et seq.).
With the beginning of the 70s, the mass media enforced a wide-scaled debate about damages caused to the environment, which should be the basis for a public environmental awareness. That most of the publications of that time had a semantic of human-caused apocalypse, was one more factor to amplify the potential for a larger debate (cf. Christmann 1996: 69 et seq.).
The arguments of the anti-nuclear activists orientated on different guidelines. In addition to the mentioned link between the civil and military use of nuclear energy, they argued on the unknown of nuclear energy, especially on the arbitrariness of boundary values, which were percepted as “a definition of losses of unacquainted dimensions” (Rucht 1980: 75). The other arguments were aimed on the fusion of state and economy (“atomic sleaze”), the constraint of civil rights (“atomic state”) and all in all the subordination of nature under the needs of the technological progress (cf. ibid. 76-78).
As we can see, the German anti-nuclear movement is a new social movement in the truest sense of the word. It is affixed to a topic, which concerns multiple functional systems: politics, science, economy and so on. The movement argues with a moralist foundation (critique of technological progress) and communicates with the fear of incalculable dangers. Those, who act in the movement, cannot affect the decisions about the new technologies. Because of this, it is not surprising, that these decisions are rejected (cf. Japp 1992: 36).
Thereby, the movement is supported by the mass media, that not only dispread the news of environmental dangers, but also picks the topic up literary. Thus, ecological problems entered into the public awareness. The movement also arranged high-profile events like the sit-ins and large-scale demonstrations against the plants in Whyl 1975, Brokdorf 1976/77 and Gorleben 1977/78 (cf. Mittermüller 1987: 87). That all these actions – especially because of the violent riots at some demonstrations – lead to a polarisation of supporters and opponents of nuclear power (cf. Renn 1984: 209), confirms that the anti-nuclear movement was interested in a fundamental debate of the German society’s values.
So why was it just the anti-NPP-movement, that could place its topic between the many different matters of protest in the 70s? One important reason is for sure the protest’s object: “because of its character, the nuclear technology is especially suitable as ‘crux of the matter’ of political controversies on high-technology, capitalist growth and its destructive virility, alternative concepts of technology and society” (Roth 1985: 52).
This fundamental critique of the society, which had a very optimistic estimate on technological progress in the 50s and 60s, brought the potential for a large-scaled basis, publicity and attention. Actually, this was advantaged by external elements. The oil crisis set the framework of a more prominent caste in the society for the energy policy. The students’ protests in the end of the 60s had created a medial public, which was open for critique. The most important internal factors for the movement’s success were the creativity of the activists and the moralist embossment of the protests. In the beginning of the movement, it could deal with a ‘David-against-Goliath-principle’. In the first days of Whyl, there were only few people, but they turned against the important energy companies and their auxiliaries in the political system (among others, prime minister Hans Filbinger, detailed Rucht 1980: 84). Also, projects like the ‘Republik freies Wendland” were affected by moral and ideology. Furthermore, the movement could consistently contain agents, who did not share the movement’s ideologies, like the churches.
It is quite interesting, that the anti-NPP-movement was not able to benefit from the Chernobyl disaster. Indeed “hundreds of thousands took to the street” (Rhein-Zeitung 1998), but the protest did not reach the level of the former times. Apparently, the protest on this topic had been so impressive, that it was no longer suitable. The political system was so intensively browbeaten by the protest in its periphery, that it went about it on its own. The “movements and citizens action groups forced the cognition of evolutionary risks upon the society” (Krohn/Krücken 1993: 29). And the political system came to action: few months after Chernobyl, the social democrats took the decision to abandon the use of nuclear energy within ten years (cf. Strathmann-Mertens 1998: 1351). Also the Greens, who were deep-seated in the political system meanwhile, could attend on the topic.
The systemic concept of risk is complex. The most important determinant is the question of attribution, which also leads to the basic difference of risk and danger. In this view, risks are possible events of loss, which are ascribed because of the observer’s own behaviour, while danger always means events of loss, which result from external decisions or which cannot be influenced.
The modern society comes to modernity because of its risks. Our times most important risks can be described as evolutionary risks, that means, they are uncalculable in their social repercussions. The decision, if these risks are taken or not, underlies basically the political system, but this adjourns the decision over risky technologies as long as possible, while it creates legitimation with debates of experts.
The society is accessible to protest, because the public is generally against decisions, which endanger the people and which they can not or only barely influence. Intransparent spheres as the nuclear energy are even more vulnerable to protest, because the controlling instances often apply as biased, anyway not standing on the side of the people. Social movements use the form of protest vary the matters. They communicate – as opposed to the established functionally systems – basing on an irrational fear communication. They act in the periphery of the political system, criticise it and help it not only in its self-description, but also set the frame for a political agenda with the movement’s topics.
The German anti-NPP-movement reflects these consequences empirical. It has opponed against a technology, which is for most of the people only in a tight frame comprehendable and which is complex and because of its complexity also fragile. The movement connected the protest against the technology with a fundamental and moralist animadversion of the German society’s values: “the fast enforcement of the attention to ecological questions is to thank these movements as well as the increasing querying of the trust in techniques” (Luhmann 1991: 153 et seq.).
The movement has taken the regard of the public with spectacular forms of protest and was able to interest the political system so intensively in its topic, so that it finally became meaningless. The today’s activists are mostly no longer called anti-NPP-movement, but anti-Castor-movement. While the awareness for the problems of using the nuclear energy has established, the society is still far away from coming to this for the problem of final waste disposal.
I declare, that I have composed the aforesaid paper autonomously and by my own hand. I have marked all quotations and did not use any others than the denoted resources and media.
Bielefeld, September 25th
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 As for all originally German quotations of this paper, this my own translation.
 The debate was dominated by Luhmann and Beck with some following books until the 1990s. See Beck 1988, Luhmann 1990a, 1990b. English literature: Beck, Ulrich 1992: Risk Society. London: Sage. Luhmann, Niklas 1993: Risk – a sociological theory. Berlin: de Gruyter.
 The mode of this punishment is also determinate by the system’s specific code. In our example, the government would loose the power, the scientists would be convictable of the falsehood of their calculation of the dangers’ possibilities and the economy would maybe be boycotted by the citizens or sentenced to pay a penalty.
 A different perspective, namely Heinz von Foerster’s, sees the reason of decision-reluctance in the system’s definition of reality, in which rationality means the maximum degree of possibilities (cf. Luhmann 1990: 169).
 For this: see Luhmann 1975: 9-20.
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