Perspectives on the social license of the forest products industry from rural Michigan, United States

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


This study examines the existing social license of the forest products industry in a rural community in Michigan, located in the northern midwestern United States. This is accomplished through a series of interviews with industry and community stakeholders, aimed at understanding how they view social license and its impacts. Perceptions of natural resource management and community relations are highly related to the community's history with industries, relationships with place, and perspectives on what work is of value. The results suggest that social license varies spatially, and it is the place-based context that allows local industry to have a higher degree of license than non-local industry actors. Thus, social license is spatially contingent, based on particular socio-spatial and historical contexts. In this paper, we articulate how this spatial and historical contextualization shapes perceptions of acceptable operating practices. This paper offers refinement of the concept of social license while also considering how natural resource based industries can successfully meet evolving management challenges when their social license may be vulnerable to disturbances. Having an adequate social license is an undeniable asset for industry, while an inadequate social license is a liability. Stakeholders have the ability to damage or halt industry operations, often with just cause in the face of natural resource extraction and exploitation. Our evaluation of social licenses intends to shed light on the conditions that precipitate such conflicts.

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© 2022. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.15347/WJS/2022.001

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WikiJournal of Science

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.