Governance and political consumerism in Finnish energy policy-making
The research task in the study was, firstly, to analyse citizens' perceptions of the power structure underlying Finnish energy policy-making. Secondly, we analysed the role of civil society in the energy sector, addressing the question whether Finns feel that they can influence energy policy-making as citizens through general elections (civic participation) or as consumers via their own consumption choices (political consumerism). Methodologically, the study was based on postal survey conducted in 2007 among a random sample representing 18-75-year-old Finns (N=4000). According to the views expressed, the innermost core of the influence structure of Finland's energy policy-making today comprises only the Cabinet and Parliament, while the second circle is composed of energy-producer firms and big firms. The European Union, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Trade and Industry belong to the third circle of influence. The power relations in Finland's energy sector have continued particularly stable since the late 1980s despite the liberalization and globalization of the energy markets. In order to influence energy policy-making, citizens consider their own consumption choices more useful than voting in elections or contacts with MPs, authorities and energy-producing companies. The least useful devices are radical environmental activism and participation in mass demonstrations.
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