Working Group on Sociotechnical Research

The Sociotechnical Working Group is constituted with two fundamental objectives. The first one, of a general nature, is that of generating conditions  allowing to foster a genuine dialogue between the social sciences and the nuclear sector. The second one, of a specific nature, is that of identifying and carrying out actual research activities from a truly sociotechnical approach, which integrates the vision of the social sciences and the experts in the nuclear field. This is a multidisciplinary research group, its task not being the promotion of a particular technology / methodology.

It is important to note that the Group is closely linked to the current initiatives of the NEA in sociotechnical field. Hence, the Workshop ‘The nuclear and social science nexus: challenges and opportunities for speaking across the disciplinary divide’, held in Paris, in December 2019, has become an essential starting point for this Group. This Workshop brought together top-level experts, precisely for starting to discuss the challenges and opportunities in this social-nuclear dialogue. The results of the Workshop shall be reflected in an ad hoc publication in the Nuclear Technology journal and also in a report that will collect the reflections of the participants. Both documents are scheduled for next autumn. The current strategy is to take advantage of the synergies created and to link the activities of the Ceiden Sociotechnical Group with the NEA activities in these areas.

Main goal

To generate conditions to foster a genuine dialogue between the social sciences and the nuclear sector.

  1. To organize forums ‘to get to better know one another’ and promote the reflection within  social scientists, nuclear experts and among them.
  2. To conduct joint reviews of the contributions made by social scientists and attempt to translate them into a dialogue among disciplines and practical recommendations.
  3. To explore how to efficiently incorporate the contributions from social sciences to the decision-making processes in the nuclear sector.
  4. To contribute to surpass the instrumental use of social sciences, the so-called “problems solver” paradigm (‘education’, ‘acceptability promotion’); to recognise the value of social sciences as a good questions maker.
  5. To put into value the important tradition of social research in the nuclear field, as it has provided interesting results with clear practical implications.
  6. To identify windows of opportunity for the pro-active incorporation of the knowledge and methods of the social sciences (going beyond incidents/accidents respone).
  7. To formalize this social knowledge in the nuclear sector.

Specific objectives

To identify and carry out research activities from a socio-technical approach, integrating both, the perspective of social sciences and that of the experts in the nuclear field.

Three ways are considered, a priori, for the identification of specific goals.

  1. Activities identified / suggested in the collaboration framework with the NEA
  2. R + D activities specifically proposed by the members.
  3. R + D activities to be identified within the group as a result of the common reflection process.

Team (see details)

  • Roser Sala. (Coordinator). Socio-Technical Research Centre (CISOT). CIEMAT. Psychologist
  • Mar Rubio-Varas. (Coordinator). Public University of Navarra (UPNA). Economic Historian
  • Ana Prades. Socio-Technical Research Centre (CISOT). CIEMAT. Sociologist
  • Elena Vico. ENRESA. Physics. Environmental Engineering and Management.
  • Ernesto Salas. Spanish State Research Agency (AEI). Historian.
  • Gonzalo Jiménez. Technical University of Madrid. Physics + Nuclear Science and Technology.
  • Isabel Mellado. Spanish Nuclear Security Council. Retiree. Theoretical Physics + History degree (in progress)
  • Josep Espluga. Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Sociologist
  • Marc Poumadère. SYMLOG. Social Psychologist.
  • Markku Lehtonen. Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). Economy y Environmental Science.
  • Sama Bilbao y León. Director General World Nuclear Association. Nuclear Engineer.
  • Yolanda Lechón. CIEMAT. Energy systems analysis. Agricultural Engineer.


R+D Projects

Radiological risk perception in Spain, the UE and Latin America

  • RISKPERCOM: Risk Perception and Communication. IV Programa Marco UE, CSN y ENRESA. F14P-T95-0016(1996/1999) (Link 1Link 2)
  • Percepción social del riesgo en el ámbito hospitalario. CSN, CIEMAT, ENRESA, CSIC, Hospital Ramón y Cajal, UCM, GRIAPA, CEXECI. (2001). (Link to the project final report (SPA))
  • Situation Concerning Public Information about and Involvement in the Decision-Making Processes in the Nuclear Sector. EC-DGTREN. TREN_04_NUC_SO7-39556.(2004-2005). (Link to the project report (SPA))

History of the nuclear power and its relationship with society

Social research in the context of nuclear emergencies

Megaprojects, governance

  • TENUMECA – The technopolitics of nuclear megaproject pathologies, economic controversies and varieties of socioeconomic appraisal, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, European Commission Marie Curie-Sklodowska Individual Fellowship grant (2019-2021)
  • HoNESt (2015/2019)
  • Analysis of methodologies for socio-economic evaluation of the French radioactive waste disposal Project, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, Francia; funded by Andra – Agence nationale de la gestion des déchets radioactifs (2012-2014)
  • The rise and fall of the fast breeder reactor technology in France and the UK: expertise, risk and hype-disappointment cycles? Financiado por EDF (2010–2012)
  • Nuclear renaissance: participatory and deliberative governance of nuclear energy in Finland, France and the UK, Groupe de sociologie pragmatique et réflexive, EHESS, Paris (2009-2010).

Socio-economic aspects

  • Analysis of methodologies for socio-economic evaluation of the French radioactive waste disposal Project, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, Francia; funded by Andra – Agence nationale de la gestion des déchets radioactifs (2012-2014)
  • Serie de proyectos ExternE. External costs of Energy (1995-2014).


  • Governing Safety in Finnish and Swedish Nuclear Waste Regimes (SAFER) & Acquiring Social License for Disposal: trust and acceptance (SOLID), with the University of Tampere, Finland (2018-2019)
  • Participation et confiance: cas de participation locale en Finlande, Suède et Royaume-Uni, ESSEC Business School, Centre CONNECT, France (2015-2018).


Nuclear risk perception

  • Prades, A Y Gonzalez Reyes, F (1999). La percepción social del riesgo: algo más que la discrepancia expertos público”. Nucleus, n 26. (Link al artículo)
  • Arranz, L., Martínez-Arias, R., Prades, A., Macias, MT y Peña, J. (2001). Percepción y comunicación del riesgo radiológico. RADIOPROTECCIÓN. Revista de la Sociedad Española de Protección Radiológica. N 29. Vol IX.( Link al artículo).

Societal aspects in nuclear and radiological emergencies

  • Hoti, F., Perko, T., Tafili, V., Sala, R., Zeleznik, N., Tomkiv, Y., … & Renn, O. (2021). Knowing the unknowns: Uncertainties during radiological emergencies. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 59, 102240. (
  • Turcanu, C., Sala, R., Perko, T., Abelshausen, B., Oltra, C., Tomkiv, Y., … & Zeleznik, N. (2021). How would citizens react to official advice in a nuclear emergency? Insights from research in three European countries. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 29(2), 143-169. (
  • Montero, M., Sala, R., Trueba, C., García-Puerta, B., Abelshausen, B., Bohunova, J., … & Van Asselt, E. (2020). Stakeholder involvement through national panels and surveys to address the issues and uncertainties arising in the preparedness and management of the transition phase. Radioprotection, 55, S127-S134. (
  • Turcanu, C., Perko, T., Sala, R., Wolf, H., Camps, J., & Oughton, D. H. (2020). Social uncertainties related to stable iodine intake in a nuclear emergency. Radioprotection, 55(HS 1), S163-S168. (file:///C:/TEMP/170694-2.pdf)
  • Tomkiv, Y., Perko, T., Sala, R., Zeleznik, N., Maitre, M., Schneider, T., & Oughton, D. H. (2020). Societal uncertainties recognised in recent nuclear and radiological emergencies. Radioprotection.( file:///C:/TEMP/174245cc.pdf)
  • Zeleznik, N., Benighaus, L., Mitrakos, D., Tafili, V., Duranova, T., Sala, R., & Benighaus, C. (2020). Mental models in nuclear emergency management. RADIOPROTECTION, 55(HS 1), S157-S162.
  • Liutsko, L., Montero, M., Trueba, C., Sala, R., Gallego, E., Sarukhan, A., & Cardis, E. (2020). Stakeholder participation in nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and recovery in Spain: benefits and challenges of working together. Journal of Radiological Protection, 40(1), N1.(
  • Durand, V., Maître, M., Croüail, P., Schneider, T., Sala, R., Marques-Nunes, P., … & Duranova, T. (2020). Towards an improved decision-making process to better cope with uncertainties following a nuclear accident. Radioprotection, 55(HS1), S135-S143.(

Spanish and European nuclear history, history of the relationship between nuclear power and society

  • Kaijser, A., Lehtonen, M., Meyer, J.-H. & Rubio Varas, MdM (eds.). (late 2020 or early 2021). Engaging the Atom: The History of Nuclear Energy and Society in Europe from the 1950s to the Present. West Virginia University Press.
  • Rubio-Varas MdM, Carvalho A and De la Torre J. (2018) “Siting (and mining) at the border: Spain-Portugal nuclear transboundary issues.” Journal for the History of Environment and Society 3, pp:33-70,
  • De la Torre, J y Rubio-Varas, M. (2018), ‘Electricidad nuclear y procesos de aprendizaje: el papel de Westinghouse y de General Electric en la experiencia española (c. 1955-1973), Revista de Historia Industrial,  Nº74, pp.107-136
  • De la Torre, J. and Rubio-Varas, M.d.M, (2018) ‘Learning by doing: the first Spanish nuclear power plant’,  Business History Review, 92(1)29-55
  • Espluga Trenc, J., B. Medina, A. Presas, M. Rubio-Varas y J. De la Torre. (2017). “Las dimensiones sociales de la percepción de la energía nuclear. Un análisis del caso español (1960-2015)”. Revista Internacional de Sociología75 (4): e075. doi:
  • Lehtonen, M. & Martiskainen, M. 2015. Nuclear power after Fukushima: prospects and implications. In: Ekins, P., Bradshaw, M., Watson, J (eds.) Global Energy: Issues, Potentials, and Policy Implications. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press. Pp. 306-330.


Socio-economic aspects



Governance, Trust:

Markku Lehtonen

Risk perception:

Ana Prades

Josep Espluga

Roser Sala

Societal aspects in nuclear and radiological emergencies:

Roser Sala

Public and stakeholders’ involvement:

Josep Espluga

Markku Lehtonen

Ana Prades

Roser Sala

Socio-economic aspects:

Yolanda Lechón

Markku Lehtonen

Economic and financial history of the Spanish nuclear program:

Mar Rubio

Development of nuclear science and technology:

Gonzalo Jiménez