Affaldssortering som institution: En undersøgelse af kommunal affaldssortering fra et institutionelt perspektiv

Marie Krogsgaard Holmriis

Student thesis: Master thesis


The following thesis sets out to examine how the municipality of Mariagerfjord makes use of the three institutional pillars, in order to get the citizens to commit to the public system of waste separation. The municipality educates its citizens through use of both employed staff members, volunteer “environmental agents” and printed communication material.Therefore this thesis will look into possibilities and difficulties with these different channels of communication in regard to the three institutional pillars as presented by Scott (2014). The analysis is based on qualitative empirical material consisting of interviews with key individuals, ethnographic research of public events and printed communication material. The main theory of institutional pressure will draw upon Scott’s (2014) interpretation of existing theory. Other than that, Weick’s (1995) theory of sensemaking will be included to analyze and explain specific, observed situations.

Even though the municipality itself is experiencing a regulatory pressure to commit to waste separation, this is not an institutional pillar that is especially used by the municipality. Instead the normative pillar is communicated, and it appears to have pressured some citizens to ascribe the institution meaning today. However, the public employees experience difficulties in the relational system that links them with the citizens and as a result they can not truly affect them normatively. Luckily for the municipality, the environmental agents are local community members, which means that the relational and symbolic systems place them as ideal intermediaries. For citizens experiencing a cultural-cognitive pressure from the institution, the public employees are generally held in high esteem as experts that can guide the citizens to better categorization. This results in a retypification, that helps the citizens to see both materials and actions in a whole new way. The aim for the municipality must be to ensure as many citizens who are feeling a cultural-cognitive pressure as possible. Even still, the conclusion is that the best way to reach citizens is first through a normative pressure by for example the environmental agents, and then later through a cultural-cognitive pressure by the municipality’s employees.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages218
SupervisorsJacob A. Hasselbalch