Paul Tage Halberg: Social Status in Norwegian Farmer Forests and Company Forests

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

With ownership of forests as a starting point, this article focuses on social status, prestige, and social structures in two distinctly different categories of rural communities:  "farmer forests," where private property-owning farmers also owned their own forests, and "company forests," where ownership belonged to companies manufacturing forest products.  In farmer forest communities social stratification mirrored the size of the forest property. Thus, those without any property were considered second rate citizens.  The unceasing efforts to gain ownership of farm land and forests created a competitive climate where the individual's aspiration to higher status hampered the development of cooperation and feelings of solidarity.
    In communities with company forests, a good example of which is the Gravberg forest in Solør owned by The Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company Limited, both company functionaries and lumberjacks had one fundamental thing in common -- neither owned the forest. Instead, identification with the company's industrial production strengthened feelings of collectivity and built a bridge between the rural forest communities and the industrial town of Sarpsborg at the mouth of the Glomma River. Social status in the Gravberg forest, then, was a reflection of the individual's qualifications and skills as a professional.
    This article relies partly on migratory tales as a source for exposing the patterns of social status in these two categories of forest communities.

Paul Tage Halberg
Telephone: +47 73 55 98 80 Fax: +47 73 55 98 51
Address: Trondheim Lærerhøgskole, Rotvoll Allé, N-7050 Trondheim 
This page was updated on July 11, 2000