Acceptance studies in the field of land use—A critical and systematic review to advance the conceptualization of acceptance and acceptability | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
July 2018
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Despite the increasing importance of studies dealing with acceptance in the field of land use, few theoretical-conceptual reflections and reviews have been published. To address this gap, this paper offers a critical and systematic review of recent literature regarding acceptance and land use. Our aim is to synthesise the contributions of these publications in order to advance scientific debate on this topic. The data set consists of 132 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and is dominated by empirical papers (mostly quantitative studies) and European case studies. Renewable energy appears as the most important thematic issue, followed by sustainable land use. In these studies, many researchers did not define acceptance or apply a theory. It seems to be perceived as an everyday term with a clear meaning. However, this review reveals that there is no common understanding of acceptance; instead, the given definitions and characteristics are sometimes even contradictory. Acceptance is often considered a positive and desirable outcome of planning projects. Only a few authors understand acceptance as a complex phenomenon. As a cross-sectoral research topic, it applies theories from different disciplines and research fields (psychology, sociology, and innovation research), even though the use of these theories within disciplines is not consistent. Most empirical studies address influencing factors with the aim of explaining decisions about acceptance. However, the theoretical foundation underlying the selection of factors is often weak. Therefore, we recommend that researchers engage in a thorough reflection of notions and concepts, suitable and sound identification of influencing factors. In concluding with our own theoretical-conceptual reflections, we support the idea that acceptance and acceptability should be distinguished to gain more clarity in the use of terms. Thus, acceptability encompasses actor-based and dynamic decision processes. The decisions are products of interactions among the actors, the object, and the context. They can be assigned to a particular degree (from rejection to acceptance or engagement) and made at the attitude, action, or utilization level. Finally, we believe that further research can benefit from this advanced concept of acceptability.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Busse, Maria
Siebert, Rosemarie


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

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