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Advertising the nuclear venture: the rhetorical and visual public relation strategies of the German nuclear industry in the 1970s and 1980s

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As the German nuclear industry geared up for the full-scale commercial use of nuclear power plants in the 1970s, it faced increasing public resistance and political obstacles. It reacted with public relation campaigns that were designed to convince skeptics of the reliability, safety and economic necessity of the technology. The material generated by these efforts sheds light on the rhetorical strategies and cultural encodings of an engineering culture under attack, revealing a disposition of technocratic assertiveness and presumption. A close analysis of brochures and pamphlets, including visual techniques of persuasion, also demonstrates some specifically German aspects of promoting nuclear energy. Scientists, managers and engineers invoked alleged lessons of the past, alluding to subtexts of resource anxiety and national autarchy.
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Keywords: autarchy; nuclear technology; oil crisis; public relations; technocracy; visual culture

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2013

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