Constructivity and destructivity in NRM conflicts

Last changed: 30 March 2023

An analytical framework and methodology for understanding the role of communication and institutions in transforming conflicts.

Conflict is a key concept in natural resource management (NRM). In social science there are two views on conflict as societal phenomena:

  1. conflict as a destructive process causing societal breakdown and degradation of capacity to think and act jointly, emphasizing prevention and resolution of conflict;
  2. conflict as a constructive process contributing to the constitution of society through diversity and creativity, and over-emphasis on conflict resolution generating singularity in perspectives and reducing problem-solving capacity.

This project assumed that disagreement as such is not destructive, and that conflict processes include both constructive and destructive aspects. Society needs to distinguish between them to maintain constructivity and reduce destructivity. The project saught to improve the theoretical and pragmatic understanding on the role of conflicts in NRM through three tasks:

  1. Deconstruct the concepts of constructivity and destructivity and develop indicators for their empirical identification;
  2. Apply the indicators in six cases of NRM conflicts on forestry, mining, and wildlife management in Sweden, and forestry in Finland and Canada;
  3. Based on empirical results, refine the theoretical propositions and the indicators for future application in research and in NRM practice.

The study contributed to an increased understanding on the role of communication and institutions in the co-construction of the constructive and destructive conflict dynamics.


Project leader

Kaisa Raitio, Associate Professor, Researcher, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU


Lars Hallgren, Senior Lecturer, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU, +4618672584
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Project time


External funding