International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Social identity and the evaluation of legitimacy in Finnish forest policy

Annukka Valkeapää, University of Helsinki

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of Helsinki
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

The perceptions on the legitimacy of various groups help to understand the conflicts concerning environment.This paper explains how the social identity affects the evaluation of legitimacy. The application field of this study is forest policy in Finland, where are conflicting demands on both nature conservation and intensive commercial use. The data (n=1260) is a representative sample of Finnish population. The legitimacy of the forest policy was explained with the following variables: acceptance of laws, procedural justice, acceptance of power distribution, acceptance of forestry operations and the subjective forest policy competence. The questionnaire measured eleven identities concerning the forests. The relationships of these identities were explored with multidimensional scaling. Two dimensions (extremes in parentheses) were detected: 1) relationship to forest (outdoor recreationist – forest industry workers) and relation to forest management (nature conservationist – forest owners).  The extreme groups were examined to see the characteristic features in each group in the evaluation of legitimacy. For all the groups the procedural justice was strongly associated with legitimacy evaluation and the acceptance of laws did not have an effect on legitimacy evaluation. The characteristic features for the groups were the acceptance of forestry practices and acceptance of power distribution for outdoor recreationists; the forest policy competence and acceptance of power distribution for nature conservationists; the acceptance of forestry operations for forest owners and for forest industry workers. The essential challenges for designing more legitimate forest policy are to have a wider perspective on the benefits of forests and the parties concerned in decision making.