This thesis shows the development of the Dutch public and political opinion on nuclear merchant shipping from 1950 to 1990. It is hypothesised that the public opinion not only changed over the years, but it negatively influenced the plans to build new nuclear merchant ships. Indeed, sentiment analysis shows a change in public opinion towards nuclear merchant shipping: first it was positive, then, in 1980, it changed for the worst. Two factors stand out when analysing the years surrounding 1980. First, the rhetoric changes, in that nuclear merchant ships are suddenly compared indiscriminately with nuclear weapons. The Dutch public always thought that nuclear weapons were a bad thing. This bad reputation spilled-over to nuclear merchant ships, rendering them unpopular as well. Second, nuclear merchant ships got confused with other types of nuclear applications, such as nuclear naval ships, nuclear weapons, and even nuclear waste. As resistance towards those applications grew, so too grew the resistance towards nuclear merchant ships. The political opinion showed a similar development, albeit some years earlier. Both the negative public and political opinion disincentivised shipbuilders and shipowners from investing into nuclear merchant ships. On the one hand. the political willpower to engage in multilateral agreements lacked. The agreements were necessary to give nuclear merchant ships international berth rights. On the other hand, a negative public opinion resulted in protests against nuclear ships. Any projected profitability of nuclear merchant ships would diminish due to delays because of protests. This, of course, made nuclear merchant ships into an unattractive investment.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Nuclear merchant ships, nuclear merchant marine, Dutch history, history of nuclear technology, Dutch, public opinion, sentiment analysis, Dutch political opinion, sentiment analysis, newspaper, research, 1950-1990
Thesis Advisor E.M. Jacobs
Persistent URL
Series Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
Tim Voogel. (2018, September 22). Set Sail for Utopia - How the Dutch Public and Political Opinion Influenced the Development of Dutch Nuclear Merchant Shipping, 1950-1990. Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from