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‘Saying’ the Nuclear Power in France: Evolution of the Images and Perceptions of a Sensitive Theme

Authors: Jandot Aurélia


As the nuclear power is a sensitive field leading to controversy, the quality of the communication about it is important. Between 1965 and 1981, in France, this one had gradually changed. This change is studied here in the main French news magazine L’Express, in connection with several parameters. As this represents a huge number of copies and occurrences, thus a considerable amount of information; this paper is focused on the main articles as well as the main “mental images”. These ones are important, as their aim is to direct the thought of the readers, and as they have led the public awareness to evolve. Over this 17 years, two trends are in confrontation: The first one is promoting the perception of the nuclear power, while the second one is discrediting it. These trends are organized in two axes: the evolution of engineering, and the risks. In both cases, the changes in the language allow discerning the deepest intentions of the magazine editing, over a period when the nuclear technology, to there a laboratory object accompanied with mystery and secret, has become a social issue seemingly open to all.

Keywords: Nuclear Power, public awareness, French news magazine, mental images

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