Legitimation conflicts: The politics of hazardous waste siting law

Robert W. Lake, Rebecca A. Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The meaning of law resides not in the statute but in its interpreter. The mode of interpretation used by a particular agency of the state in a particular instance varies from interpretation based on abstract principles to interpretation guided by local contingency. These modes of interpretation are associated with conflicting and mutually exclusive forms of state legitimation. Law and regulation as written, adjudicated, and implemented provide a text that can be read as an indicator of how, and in whose favor, the conflicting legitimation needs of different levels of government have been resolved in particular instances. We illustrate this conceptualization of law with regard to federal-state-local conflict over hazardous waste facility siting. The particular form that hazardous waste law takes in particular places represents the political resolution of conflict among different agencies of the state responding to competing sources of legitimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-508
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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