Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

James Burchfield

Commitee Members

Cara Nelson, Todd Morgan


biomass energy, social acceptance, woody biomass


University of Montana


The factors that characterize social acceptance of biomass energy are critical to future development, but not well defined. Using content analysis, I examined 187 articles related to biomass energy from the five largest newspapers according to circulation in Montana. To identify concepts that influence social acceptance, themes were classified into three categories: corollary expectations of benefit, perceived risks and uncertainty, and social justice motives. Two themes were coded with a much higher frequency than others: expectations of biomass energy utilization to sustain livelihoods and uncertainty surrounding the economic feasibility of wood-energy (code 60 and 67 times, respectively). Results also indicate that, while some dimensions of biomass energy are technical, and require rational, scientific explanations of social and environmental effects, others transcend science and require value-based judgments, tradeoffs, and political choices. In addition, findings suggest that while questions of function (Can forests help fuel our future?) are imperative, normative questions of validity (Should forests help fuel our future?) are also critical to understanding what constitutes social acceptance of biomass energy.

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© Copyright 2010 John Phillip Todd