The Construction of General Public Interest: Risk, Legitimacy, and Power in a Public Hearing


ORGANIZATION STUDIES, cilt.30, ss.277-300, 2009 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier

  • Yayın Türü: Makale / Tam Makale
  • Cilt numarası: 30
  • Basım Tarihi: 2009
  • Doi Numarası: 10.1177/0170840608101481
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.277-300


The decisions of the economic actors in late modern society produce risks in addition to products and services. Thus, the parties likely to be affected by those decisions - individuals, communities, and society at large - seek to influence them. Public hearings are a key forum in society where this influence occurs. This paper uses a case study of a hearing to show how public hearings use legitimating practices to enact institutional power although they are commonly portrayed as risk-minimizing democratic mechanisms. Public hearings enact participation that is formal not substantive, create 'public good' that serves particular not general interests, and use evaluation which is normative or value-based and not rational. Public hearings thus legitimate government and corporate institutions through the demonstration of citizen participation, general interest, and rational evaluation. These processes enact ideological or image-based legitimation by constructing an image of the general public. This legitimation is illusory but effective for enacting state and corporate power.