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
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.