Assessing total legitimacy in in Swedish large carnivore policy

University essay from Umeå universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The importance of nature and biodiversity became widely acknowledged during the second half of the past century. The environmental movement contributed greatly to the initiation (and later adoption) of various international agreements on protection and sustainable use of natural resources around the globe. One highly contested natural resource is large carnivores. The role they play in eco-systems have been recognized through the adoption of aforementioned agreements for strict protection and viability. Yet it has been found that an increase of large carnivores can have negative effects on human activities. This is true for many countries around the world holding carnivore populations and Sweden is one of them. Sweden has undergone a policy shift in its environmental policy, from an anthropocentric view to a more ecocentric view, and there are several questions unanswered regarding the legitimacy of the policy. The lack of studies exploring the policy itself, specifically how the policy is formulated, what it contains, and how it relates to legitimacy, creates an opportunity to explore various legitimacy aspects of the policy content. The aim of this thesis is to assess total legitimacy in the current Swedish large carnivore policy using qualitative idea analysis. This study assesses how legitimate the current policy is, utilizing the theoretical concepts of policy ideas and total legitimacy to analyze the Swedish large carnivore policy and furthermore, to test the usefulness of the theory as an analytical tool. The results show that the policy lacks several key aspects of legitimacy, such as political and socio-cultural legitimacy, which hold the implication that the policy needs to be revised if total legitimacy is to be achieved. This paper contributes to fill a knowledge gap on how legitimacy can be studied and what further implication the legitimacy status have for management practices. 

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