Too Cheap to Meter

An Economic and Philosophical Analysis of the Nuclear Dream

By Steven Mark Cohn

Subjects: Social Theory, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Energy Policy, Economics, American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Radical Social and Political Theory
Paperback : 9780791433904, 467 pages, October 1997
Hardcover : 9780791433898, 467 pages, October 1997

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures



1. Introduction

Part I: History

2. The Nuclear Planning Context

3. Government Regulation of Nuclear Power

4. The Creation of Promotional Realms of Discourse: A Sociology of Nuclear Knowledge

5. Nuclear Power's OT Differential

6. The Diseastablishment of Nuclear Power as an Official Technology

Part II: The Future of Nuclear Power: Nuclear Sector Issues

7. Nuclear Power Cost Forecasts

8. Public Policy and the Future of Nuclear Power: R&D and Subsidy Support

9. Nuclear Regulatory Issues

10. Alternative Reactor Designs

Part III: The Competitive Context

11. Nuclear Competition: Demand Side

12. Nuclear Competition: Supply Side

13. Global Warning and Nuclear Power

Part IV: Conclusion

14. Findings




Uses concepts from social theory to explore the history and future of nuclear power in the U. S. and to explore the nature of technological change in the U. S. economy.


This book weaves together nuclear power and social theory to explain the history and predict the future of nuclear power in the United States and to explore the determinants of technological change in the U. S. economy. The first half of the book looks at who promoted nuclear power, how they did it, and why nuclear costs and hazards were systematically underestimated. The second half looks at current debates about the technology's future through the lens of its history.

Steven Mark Cohn is Associate Professor of Economics at Knox College.


"Too Cheap to Meter is a must read for anyone interested in nuclear power; it is no less rewarding for students of technology, epistemology, or the sociology of knowledge. [It] illuminates the economic, political, and scientific basis of the rise and demise of nuclear power with a sophisticated and original interpretation of the coevolution of technologies and scientific understanding. " — Samuel Bowles, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

"This is an important history which should capture the interests of those concerned with what energy sources will be used in the next generation. Cohn achieves two goals, the history of the rise and fall of nuclear power as a dominant paradigm and also how such paradigms are socially constructed. He successfully brings together social science theory and engineering. " — David W. Noble, American Studies, University of Minnesota

"Cohn has a deep insight into the logic of the nuclear power debate. He understands why nuclear enthusiasts believe that solutions exist to current problems and why nuclear critics disagree. " — Lawrence M. Lidsky, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This book is the most profound and rigorous work on the political economy of nuclear power to date. It is destined to become the definitive chronicle of the rise and fall of nuclear power. " — Charles Komanoff, author of Power Plant Cost Escalation

"Professor Cohn's work on the economics of nuclear power is the best overall economic evaluation I know of. I rely on it, and you should too. " — Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research