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Nils Aarsaether, Jorgen Ole Baerenholdt: The reflexive North. 2001. The UNESCO MOST Circumpolar Coping Processes Project (CCPP)
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UNESCO-MOST: The Circumpolar Coping Processes Project (CCPP)

The Reflexive North

Edited by Nils Aarsæther and Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt

ISBN 92 893 0161-9

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Table of contents 

  1. Reflexive Local Development: Coping Strategies in a Globalized Environment
    Nils Aarsæther & Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt
  2. The Reflexitive Community. Quest for Autonomy as a Coping Strategy in an Inuit Community
    Thibault Martin
  3. Land Ownership and the Debate on the Rights of the Sami People in Finnish Lapland
    Seija Tuulentie
  4. Innovative Traditions? Coping Processes among Households, Villages and the Municipality
    Marit Aure
  5. Coping with Extinction: The Last Fishing Village on the Murman Coast
    Larissa Riabova
  6. Transitional Survival in the Fishing Villages beside the White Sea
    Eira Varis & Nadezhda Polevshchikova
  7. From Nets to the Net: The Case of Quebec's Lower North Shore
    John Hull & Simon Milne
  8. Local Democracy, Third Sector and Rural Learning
    Håvard Teigen
  9. Local Ownership: Global Markets
    Marit Husmo
  10. A Coping Strategy for Greenland
    Jens Kaalhauge Nielsen
  11. Local Development in the North
    Jorgen Ole Bærenholdt & Nils Aarsæther


This book is about how people, firms and local authorities cope with everyday challenges in the Northern periphery More often than before, the challenges are related to global processes, but this should not lead us to neglect what goes on at the local level. On the contrary, we contend that there are always local practices involved in the processes that make up the dynamics of globalization. With out an understanding of how people act and react at the level of the locality, the nature of the present globalized condition cannot be aptly understood. This is the point of departure for the Circumpolar Coping Processes Project (CCPP) within the UNESCO - MOST ("Management of Social Transformations") programme for social research, which forms the background of this book.

The CCPP is a co-operative effort within the social sciences that involves experienced scholars as well as doctoral students from Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. By organizing a series of workshops, held in Roskilde (Denmark 1997), Klaksvik (Faroe Islands 1997), Isafjordur (Iceland 1998), and Apatity (Russia 1999) a shared theoretical and methodological understanding have developed, facilitating research co-operation, and joint efforts in the dissemination of results. The workshops in 1997 resulted in the first book: Coping Strategies in the North - Local Practices in the Context of Global Restructuring, Aarsæther & Bærenholdt (eds.), 1998. Most of the chapters of the present book originate from papers presented at our 1998 and 1999 workshops.

In "The Reflexive North" our intention is to elaborate on the theoretical framework for studies of coping strategies (chapters I and 11), following the path introduced in our first book, but developing the perspective on the basis of the contributions from the case-studies presented in chapters 2-10. These chapters highlight processes of local and regional development in the North and have been written with reference to a shared theoretical framework.

It has been a pleasant task to edit this book. Of course, the chap­ters reflect different academic and language backgrounds. We have been inspired by the interaction and communication with fellow researchers that share, not only a theoretical understanding, but also a moral commitment to the maintenance and improvement of living conditions in the modernized northern peripheries.

The importance of the e-mail must be emphasised as greatly facilitating the editorial job, but first and foremost we would like to express our thanks to Marit Ante, leader of the CCPP secretariat at the University of Tromsø, for her close monitoring of the editing process; and to Richard Apostle, Dalhousie University, Halifax, for his constructive comments to all the chapters, and to the structure of the book itself. We will also thank Magnhild Nikolaisen for her competent technical assistance in preparing the manuscript. In the second phase of revision of the manuscript, we would like to thank the present leader of the CCPP secretariat at the University of Tromsø, Jochen Peters. In addition, we have gained a lot from the constructive reviews by three anonymous referees, facilitating the revision of the manuscript.

Apart from the research effort by the authors, the production of this book has been supported through funds for our meetings and secretariat by the Nordic Atlantic Co-operation (NORA), the joint Committee of the Nordic Social Science Research Councils (NOS-S), Nordic Arctic Research Programme (NARP), The Norwegian Research Council (NFR), Nordic Academy of Advanced Study (NorFa) and The Barents Secretariat of The Euro - Arctic Barents Region, (BEAR).

Tromsø and Roskilde, February 2001



This book is about how modern people cope with everyday challenges in small places in the Northern periphery. The challenges today - more often than before - are related to global processes, but this fact should not lead to a neglect of what goes on at the local level, and the interplay and conflicts between local level and global processes. Our focus is on local practices, and we contend that without an understanding of how people act and react at the level of the locality, the nature of the present globalized condition cannot be aptly understood.

This perspective is the point of departure for the Circumpolar Coping Processes Project (CCPP) within the UNESCO - MOST ("Management of Social Transformations") research programme, which forms the background of this book.

In order to guide the empirical research and to structure our observations, a theoretical framework has been developed. It is based on two components:

First, we see places and localities as made up by three types of social relations; reciprocal, associative, and market-oriented - the "RAM" triangle. The interplay and balancing between these three types of relations we contend is decisive for the viability of a locality.

Second, the strategies pursued by people to counter the well known problems in providing incomes, maintaining public services, and securing the natural resource base, are analysed by applying the concept of "coping strategy". This means that strategies, to be successful in the long run, must include innovations, must be organised by the principle of social inclusion, and must make sense to the people involved. This last point - making sense - is underlined by the title of this volume. Reflexivity means that the individual develops her/his own, "mixed" identity rather than take on an either "local/ traditional" or "global/ modern" one. The development of constructed identities thus replaces the individual's standardised conception of self by an identity of a more ambiguous type. In practice, this means that today it is possible to combine a modern two-income family life with a strong commitment to a place that formerly used to be characterised by its traditional household structures. it may also mean that personal mobility - thought of as a threat to residential stability - may on the contrary be a crucial factor for living in peripheral localities.

Underlying the approach outlined by the editors is the hypothesis that places characterised by a mix of reciprocal, associative and market-oriented relations, are more likely than others to develop coping strategies. Admittedly, the rigour of this reasoning is not reflected in all the empirical chapters of this book, but the authors discuss variations of the “coping strategies” approach to local development processes. The geographical and ethnic contexts vary greatly, from Inuit Canada and Greenland to Nordic, Sami, and Russian localities and ways of life. Nevertheless the challenges at the local level, as well as the responses show some interesting similarities. In the concluding chapter, the editors point to the qualities of the associative relations at the local level, and in the relations to the administrative and political systems at large as especially important for places in the northern periphery to survive and even prosper.

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The Reflexive North
Nord 2001: 10
© Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen 2001
ISBN 92-893-0621-1
ISSN 0903-7004


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