Chapter

Nuclear specialists at work

Sean F. Johnston

in The Neutron's Children

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692118
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692118.003.0007
Nuclear specialists at work

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For practising engineers, the most pragmatic expression of technical identity was defined in the workplace. This chapter focuses on nuclear specialists via their jobs. During the 1950s, workers from a spectrum of disciplines expanded at sites specializing in reactor development, plutonium production, and power generation. By the early 1960s these specialists were emerging as a recognized occupational speciality in the USA, but not in Britain. For early nuclear workers, representation by American labour unions was a problem for security reasons, and existing British unions aligned with chemical industry traditions, but new occupational labels were supported in Canada. The characteristics that defined the work of the specialists were disputed, although the risks of radioactivity shaped working identities in each country.

Keywords: labour unions; radioactivity; risk; occupation; health and safety; radiation; nuclear reactor; nuclear history; representations; national security

Chapter.  13243 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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