Politics of public interest: Finnish forest capital’s strategy in the Kaipola paper mill shutdown

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Abstract

Depoliticization has emerged as a key concept in analyzing the changing political dynamics of capitalist democracies. Yet, the concept of public interest has been relatively absent in depoliticization literature. This article argues for a more systematic inclusion of public interest politics in scrutinizing de- and repoliticization. The argument is advanced through strategic-relational theory by interpreting public interest as (1) a terrain of political struggles, (2) a mode of doing politics and (3) a method of enquiry. These dynamics are examined in the empirical context of Finnish forest industry’s political strategy in the Kaipola paper mill closure in August 2020. The forest conglomerate UPM-Kymmene politicized its paper mill shutdown by shifting the responsibility to the centre-left governmental coalition’s purportedly business-hostile policies. However, analyzing the case through UPM strategies and the paper production crisis, the closure falls in line with the forest industry’s long-term business strategy. The forest industry’s and UPM’s strategy is recognized as a forceful defense of a corporate polity where public interest is equated with the success of key economic actors. The article concludes with an argument for the politics of public interest as a vital research perspective for analyzing contradictions surrounding ‘the economy’.

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APA

Kellokumpu, V., & Sirviö, H. (2022). Politics of public interest: Finnish forest capital’s strategy in the Kaipola paper mill shutdown. Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography, 104(4), 341–361. https://doi.org/10.1080/04353684.2021.2025412

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