Dissertation Abstracts

Green Banners Change and Stability in the Views of MTK (TheCentral Union of Agricultural Producers and Forestry Owners in Finland) on theEnvironmental Policy Issues 1980-2000 in the Light of the Magazine"Maataloustuottaja" (Agricultural Produce

Author: Luoma, Pentti A, pentti.luoma@oulu.fi
Department: Faculty of Education
University: University of Oulu, Finland
Supervisor: Timo Järvikoski
Year of completion: 2009
Language of dissertation: Finnish

Keywords: agriculture , ecological modernization , environmental discourse , MTK
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Agriculture and Food , Political Sociology

Abstract

This study describes the central views of MTK (the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forestry Owners) on Finnish environmental policy during the period 1980-2000. The empirical material is collected from the magazine Maataloustuottaja. The data is analyzed using ethnographic content analysis and examining the central arguments and discursive structures of the texts.
The study begins with a description of the development of Finnish agriculture and of MTK. The first chapter also presents and evaluates empirical studies on the environmental views of Finnish farmers. The following chapter discusses some theoretical and methodological issues in environmental sociology. The theoretical foundation of this study is grounded in the idea of ecological modernization and social justice in environmental issues.
The essential methodological tension within environmental sociology is between critical realism and social constructivism. The starting point of this research lies between critical realism and moderate constructivism; in other words, naïve realism and strong constructivism or scientism and relativism have been abandoned. This starting point is also closely connected to environmental pragmatism.
The empirical part of the study begins with a thematic discussion of changes in MTK's views on environmental policy issues. Although these views have not changed significantly over the years, MTK has shown increasing interest in organic production and cooperation with consumer and worker organizations to promote "environmentally pure", local food production and the social sustainability of Finnish food production and countryside.
The second part of the empirical study reveals some stable discursive practices in the environmental rhetoric of MTK that has traditionally accentuated the connection between nature and agriculture and the notion of farmers as the stewards of nature. At the same time, MTK has emphasized the alienation of urbanites and environmental policy-makers from nature and countryside. MTK has also expressed a concern about private property rights, economic expenses, and a variety of practical problems caused by nature conservation and preservation. MTK's attitude towards family farming is contradictory: they are regarded as the models of agriculture, while the scale of production is growing.

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