Trust, legitimacy and power in forest certification:

06 December 2011


doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.11.002 Constance L. McDermott

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The root of the word certification is ‘‘to make certain’’. Yet the complex technical and normative challenges certification aims to address, and its engagement of diverse and distant actors, are more about trust than certainty. The reliance on trust is perhaps most evident in ‘‘ethical’’ certification schemes due to the contested normative and affective nature of their environmental and social claims. Yet there is little research on the dynamics of local to global trust in these schemes. Social scientists have instead focused on the ‘‘legitimacy’’ of certification as an authoritative governance mechanism. This discourse has reinforced general trends towards structural formalization and rationalistic control that fail to address underlying sources of distrust.