Perceived (In)justice of Public Land Acquisition

S.M. Holtslag-Broekhof*, R. van Marwijk, R. Beunen, J.S.C. Wiskerke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have addressed the justice of public land acquisition, but few studies have addressed the question of what landowners perceive as just. Individual perceptions drive an important part of the social and scientific debates on legitimate and just land acquisition. This article addresses this gap by studying landowners’ and land purchasers’ perceptions of just land acquisition. We did this by uncovering the prevailing discourse on just land acquisition and studying the values that shaped people’s perceptions of just land acquisition. The results showed that perceptions of justice are based on the values of lawfulness, decentness and equality. These values were translated into different norms that resulted in expectations pertaining to just land acquisition. Insight into the different perceptions and the prevailing discourse of just land acquisition and their underlying values increases the understanding of land acquisition processes and land policy strategies. First, it becomes apparent that land acquisition has an essential element of injustice that cannot be avoided by a good process or a just compensation fee. Second, insight in different discourses provides valuable input for debates on just land acquisition. Third, such insight shows that money is not always a sufficient means of indemnification. The combination of sufficient financial compensation, the opportunity of a new location, attractive selling conditions and accurate and open process are all important requisites to ensure that public land acquisition is perceived by the majority of landowners as just.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)167-184
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Land acquisition
  • Land purchasers
  • Landowners
  • Perceived justice

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