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Why Citizens (Sometimes) Dispute Public Facility Sitings – An Experimental Account of the NIMBY-syndrome

Conference contribution
Authors Peter Esaiasson
Published in The Biannual Nordic Politicial Science Association Meeting
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords NIMBY; Legitimacy;
Subject categories Social Sciences


The preferred outcome of facility siting processes is the informed consent of those immediately affected by them. Acknowledging the special character of land use politics in democracies, the paper examines empirical support for the idea of NIMBYism. Specifically, it asks to what extent protest is the spontaneous first response when individuals learn about plans to site a public facility in their neighborhood. To answer this question, an experiment was designed in which stake and ambiguity of a planned facility siting was manipulated in a setting which approaches the real world. Results from the experiment, and from a supporting large N-survey of planned facility sitings in the Swedish city Gothenburg, provides evidence against a strong version of NIMBYism. However, while speaking against a simplistic understanding of NIMBYism, results show that self-interested and local concerns do play an important role for individuals’ automatic responses to planned facility sitings. It is concluded that that basic idea of NIMBYism should be part of our understanding of the complexities of public facility sitings.

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