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Citizens as political agents: A survey of competence, system satisfaction and the desire to influence the Finnish forest policy

Author(s): Annukka Valkeapää | Kimmo Vehkalahti

Journal: Transcience : a Journal of Global Studies
ISSN 2191-1150

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 25;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Citizen | competence | forest policy | legitimacy | system justification

The purpose of forest policy is to enhance the sustainable production of benefits of forests to serve the needs of all citizens. Theory of system justification claims that low status groups are the most likely to support, defend and justify existing social systems. This study explores how various aspects of forest related competencies affect satisfaction with the political system and the desire to influence decision making. The effect of competence on system satisfaction and the desire to influence outcomes, is evaluated using survey data on Finnish citizens’ attitudes on forest policy. The results were in line with system justification theory: Competence decreases system satisfaction and increases the desire to influence outcomes. The dissatisfaction with the system becomes possible only if people have adequate knowledge. Forestry competent people tend to be satisfied with the system, while people with conservation knowledge tend to be dissatisfied. The challenges to the inclusion of citizens’ views in political processes are addressed.
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