Kjell Hansen: Between Conformity and Resistence: on the Formation of Local Identities in Woodland Regions of Northern Sweden

Swedish text here
This is a short presentation of one of the participating projects in the nordic project Cultural Processes in Nordic Woodland Communities

This article discusses popular reactions to post-war welfare policies in Sweden. From the point of view of the inhabitants of the local communities in Northern Sweden, these policies gave access to new material resources. At the same time, welfare policies meant marginalizing, most obviously through depopulation. The common response to this situation of inequality were discussions about the meaning of local traditions and practices, which were presented as dialectical contrasts to the ideals of state policies. The local identities thus forged were cultural constructions realized under specific social and political conditions.
 Evidence generated by the implementation of state policies on housing and education demonstate how local communities were increasingly influenced by activities, values, norms, and actions that originated in other social milieus. It was these increased contacts with "the other" that established a space for reflections on the meaning of locality. Through narrative constructions, continuity in individual life-stories and consensus on interpretations of social development was created. "The local" is thus a way of critiquing aspect of the status quo without having to establish an outspokenly oppositional political stance against it.

Kjell Hansen
E-mail: Kjell.Hansen@etn.lu.se
Address: Etnologiska institutionen, Finngatan 8, S-22362 Lund 
This page was updated on July 11, 2000