University of Oulu

Ville Kellokumpu & Heikki Sirviö (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, DOI: 10.1080/04353684.2021.2025412

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

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Author: Kellokumpu, Ville1; Sirviö, Heikki2
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-04-11


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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Series: Geografiska annaler. Series B, Human geography
ISSN: 0435-3684
ISSN-E: 1468-0467
ISSN-L: 0435-3684
Volume: 104
Issue: 4
Pages: 341 - 361
DOI: 10.1080/04353684.2021.2025412
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: This study was supported by the Academy of Finland project ‘Justification for agreement-based approaches in Nordic spatial planning: towards situational direct democracy?’ (decision number 315772).
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.