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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Socioeconomic significance of developmental projects in Northwest Russia: the INsiders' POINT of View

Awarded: NOK 2.3 mill.

Background: This project was conceived in the context of an expected launching of large-scale extractive activities, focused on the Shtokman natural gas field. Dynamic: The shelving of Shtokman made us, among other effects, to turn to the transport infrastructural sector,including major reconstruction of Murmansk port and railway junction, as well as of the regional road system. Fieldwork: The project team focused their research work on: (i) assessment of socio-economic impact of major projects by the young urban population of the Region. A key point here was whether attitudes supported, or, conversely, refuted decisions to remain in the Region on a long-term basis; (ii) in the same manner, but orienting to the cohort of industrially employed/unemployed in depressed so-called one-mine towns(Revda) we studied the role of projects on the formation of immediate residential and migratory tactics and strategies on the domestic level; (iii) orienting to the tundra-connected, particularly Sami population of the Region, we studied the effect of proclaimed developments for these parts, namely expansion of tundra tourisms. Results: (a) insider responses tend to be skeptical to dismissive of proclaimed beneficial outcomes, particularly as regards employment and residential services; (b) fieldwork data suggests a developmental project employment pattern relying on in-brought temporary residing workers from the south, leaving in the cold local workforce; (c) current projects do not include, at this stage at least, reducing diesel-oil dependency for the Region; (d) tourism in the tundra-areas is insignificant economically due to absence of infrastructure. Conclusion: Against such a very schematized background we draw the preliminary conclusion that reliance on socio-economic strategies, often of informal character, which insiders evolve on their own, rather than in relation to major developmental projects, is the critical pattern that emerges. In this way, absence of linkage between major developmental projects and insider formulations of immediate courses of action (two-lane model) has until now found full support.

This project aims to investigate how 'ordinary people' on the Kola Peninsula are impacted by the effects of rapid social change produced by state initiated modernization projects within sectors such as oil and gas extraction and processing, mining, transp ortation, as well as other forms of industrial development. It will study the construction of governmental and regional social policies and to what extent they capture social problems that are experienced at the grass-roots level. 'Informal economies', as they emerged during the Soviet era and evolved further till the present, will be a main focus of interest. Within this context we want to know what sense the general public makes of current events, as well as the social policy applications that are adopt ed on a community level, i.e. strategies of resilience or resistance to state-promoted projects. In order to get a reliable and varied picture of present trends, the project will concentrate on a series of different communities on a gradient from the big city (Murmansk) to smaller urbanized areas such as Revda and Teriberka, Severodvinsk, to the smallest tundra village like Krasnoshchel'e, Kanevka, and Sosnovka. The project will seek answers to questions like what will be the fate of formerly secluded vil lages and one-mine towns and key industrial sites in terms of living conditions; will modernization plans improve or aggravate the situation of indigenous peoples; is there anything like a co-management policy likely to emerge taking into account the inte rests of the local and, particularly, the indigenous population? Through this focus on broadly defined social issues the project seeks to balance research efforts against the technological and economic development oriented types of research that seem to d ominate academic work in the region.

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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam