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Coping With Distances

Coping With Distances: Producing Nordic Atlantic Societies

Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Coping With Distances
    Book Description:

    The Nordic Atlantic area has seen remarkable examples of social formations in areas that many would perceive as too remote to allow the construction of functioning communities. But through innovations, networking and the formation of identities people have coped with distances, thus continuously rebuilding societies in Northern Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, and Greenland. Living conditions in the Nordic Atlantic are so extreme that one might ask whether the notion of society is applicable under these circumstances. The author argues that, yes, there is a meaningful way of comprehending these social formations, which is through the spatial and temporal practices that produce, reproduce, stabilize, destabilize and change them. He introduces the concept of coping, which means neither mastering nor adapting but relates to in-between strategies and tactics reflected in practices of securing people's way of life under conditions that are never totally under their control.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-282-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps, Figures and Photographs
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt
  5. 1 Coping on the Margins
    (pp. 1-36)

    People connect and, in doing so, make societies. Thus societies emerge through people coping with distances: societies do not exist a priori. Many approaches have taken societies for granted as territorial containers of modern society per se. Others have seen the mobilities of globalisation, networks and flows as the ‘external’ forces forming the socio-spatial forms of human life beyond society in the twenty-first century. This book aims to pursue a third position, which highlights how people’s mundane practices of coping with distances constitute various kinds of society. Such practices are not the effects or consequences of social orders. Rather, coping...

  6. 2 Empowering Research
    (pp. 37-64)

    Investigating how societies are produced by way of people’s coping raises a number of crucial questions in social theory. To insist on the historical and geographical context of these processes does not make theoretical considerations irrelevant. On the contrary, it raises specific requirements regarding the ontological, epistemological and methodological grounding of research. Whereas Chapter 1 introduced the framing concept of coping together with an initial discussion of the concept of society, this chapter focuses on the approaches that are relevant in researching the processes and practices through which societies are produced. The presentation of the three dimensions of coping, innovation,...

  7. 3 Nordic Atlantic Societies Emerging
    (pp. 65-94)

    How did societies emerge in the Nordic Atlantic? And how did societies reproduce and stabilise themselves over distances in time and space? To give just a glimpse of an answer to these large questions involves invoking historical geographies in two senses that cannot escape being interwoven. First are historical geographies of how it happened. This means providing an account of the coping practices and processes that made societies, though any account of this will also relate to the second sense: What are the historical-geographical discourses involved in stabilising societies through the stories and accounts that connect events into the narratives...

  8. 4 Formative Transports
    (pp. 95-126)

    Societies are formed by transportation, and this chapter presents evidence for this from the Nordic Atlantic. Nordic Atlantic societies are often associated with scattered settlement patterns and with challenging journeys across long distances, steep mountains, rough seas and ice caps to reach other settlements. This contributes to the making of societies in specific ways that are more than just variations in producing specific national, regional or ‘locality’ effects on social units that are already defined. Settlement patterns and journeys are not secondary to societies. They are parts of the production of societies, formed in the contextual complexity of relations, which...

  9. 5 Nets and Flows I: Fisheries
    (pp. 127-152)

    Fisheriesare areas of the sea where fish are caught in large quantities for commercial purposes’ (Collins Cobuild English Dictionary1999: 635). This entry reveals a great deal. First, fisheries have increasingly become associated with territorialised ‘areas of the sea’, an indication of the attempts to produce territorial resource management societies at sea. Secondly, fish are at centre stage, but as an object for a practice in the passive mode, from which fishing humans have been erased. Thirdly, catching fish is more than coincidental, instrumentally serving business interests. This chapter examines the complexities in the spatialities, objects/actors and economic connections...

  10. 6 Nets and Flows II: Tourism
    (pp. 153-174)

    Tourism takes place when people – hosts and guests – perform tourist places, but this only happens if various forms of networked mobility secure routes and connections about, to, through, around and away from tourist places. Tourism means flows of images, objects and people transported via a diversity of routes governed through networking (Bærenholdt et al. 2004). Thus tourism is more than a question of uncommitted flows causing moments of contact in place. There are crucial networks governing travels and meetings, and the networks connecting across distances are stabilised by narratives about relations between hosts and guests. Colonial definitions of otherness are...

  11. 7 Inhabiting Welfare Municipalities
    (pp. 175-198)

    People cope with distances by means of mobility. The chapters on transport, fisheries and tourism have shown how various Nordic Atlantic societies, conceived as routes, are produced through mobile practices, challenging our more or less ‘normal’ conception of societies as territorial units. But I have now reached a turning point in this book. I am not only interested in the mobile bonds of associations, but also in the question of how the territorial bridging of political entities is enacted (see Chapter 1). Therefore I also need to investigate ‘the process of the territorialization of space, the construction and signification of...

  12. 8 The Ambivalences of Nordicity
    (pp. 199-230)

    ‘The Nordic Model’ or ‘the Scandinavian welfare state’ are famous icons, which are often used to portray the success of labour and social democratic movements in the north, drawing on the wreckage of the nineteenth-century Nordic nationalist project. The narratives about the Nordic Model cross-cut political, socio-economic and cultural fields to such an extent that it almost became an unquestionable myth. However, processes of globalisation, European Union integration and difficulties in having strangers involved in recreating Nordic nationalism present challenges to any myth in this context. The ambivalences of Nordic nation building on the basis of territorial bonding are intensifying....

  13. 9 Transnationalism and ‘Sustainable Development’
    (pp. 231-260)

    Since the 1970s, the political practices of social organisation in time and space have increasingly responded to environmental problems and what emerged as ‘sustainable development’ with the Brundtland Report. People organise societies in new ways to meet such challenges, and these forms seek to match the problems people face at a distance, mobile problems, and problems in common among many who are otherwise distant from one another. Few ideas have been so closely associated with the Nordic countries as ‘sustainable development’. Nordic societies often think of themselves as promoters of these ideas, although they are now, more or less, in...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-286)
  15. Index
    (pp. 287-294)