A quiet French country district is the site of a nuclear waste-processing plant. Francoise Zonabend describes the ways in which those working in the plant, and living nearby, come to terms with the risks in their daily lives. She provides a superb sociology of the nuclear work-place, with its divisions and hierarchies, and explains the often unexpected responses of the workers to the fear of radiation and contamination. The work is described euphemistically in terms of women's tasks - cleaning, cooking, preparing a soup - but the male workers subvert this language to create a more satisfying self-image. They divide workers into the cautious ('rentiers') and the bold ('kamikazes') who relish danger. By analysing work practices and the language of the work-place, the author shows how workers and locals can recognise the possibility of nuclear catastrophe while, at the same time, denying that it could ever happen to them. This is a major contribution to the anthropology of modern life.
'Zonabend has written an unusually interesting book about the climate around these places ...' Patrick Wright, The Guardian