Scientific associations are a fairly neglected object both in the social studies of science and in the literature on social movements. Though it is often discussed the collaboration of individual researchers or research institutions with civic groups, there is little work done on the collective action of scientists.
This paper will examine the civic role of scientific associations, by drawing on the case of one particular controversy in Portugal, concerning nuclear energy. Even though there are no nuclear power plants in Portugal, their construction has been discussed recurrently in the past sixty years. And while environmental movements are currently leading the fight against nuclear energy, scientists, either isolated or in more or less formalised groups, have also played a significant role in the debate.
This paper is based on a yet exploratory analysis, sustained mainly on documentary evidence (books, newspaper articles, but also some exploratory interviews) that should later on be complemented by interviews with the main actors in the events described below. It is part of an ongoing research project on scientific associations funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.
Publication associated with Project Portugal Nuclear: Física, Tecnologia, Medicina e Ambiente (1910-2010).