Assessing senses of place, mobility and viability in industrial northern communities (BOREAS - MOVE INNOCOM)

Leader: Dr Florian Stammler

 Start of the project: 2006 End of the project:  2010

Funded by Finnish Academy, under the auspices of the ESF EUROCORES Programme BOREAS . MOVE was an endorsed International Polar Year  (IPY) project (No. 436).

INNOCOM Project Abstract

The project undertook a comparative analysis of mobility and settlement in and around communities of industrial workers in Northwest Russia/Siberia.

15 years after the Fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s major northern industrial regions have all experienced substantial restructuring, in most cases resulting in depopulation, which is connected to industrial contraction and relocation politics of the Russian government and the Wold bank. The research project investigates the determinants of northerners’ resilience, which factors let residents of northern industrial towns – mostly non-indigenous incomers– remain in the north under these conditions, withstanding the large trend of relocation to the south that is supported by the Russian government. Underlying is the main question of the conditions of sustainability and viability of northern communities, a topic that has gained much scientific and practical recent attention.

As part of the CRP ‘MOVE’ within the ESF EUROCORES programme ‘BOREAS ’, this project contributed to theoretical research on ‘senses of place’ and the ‘social fabric of communities’. ‘MOVE’ aimed for a northern contribution to a general theory of viable communities. The main attention was devoted to assessing community resilience, i.e. under which circumstances northern communities are viable enough to stay together and strive to persist, and on the other hand, which factors lead to disintegration and outmigration of their residents.

Using qualitative research methods and assisted by quantitative baseline data, the project aimed to:

  • Identify and analyse the main factors for social cohesion of multinational northern communities. 
  • Assess the viability of communities after the loss of a common industrialising vision in the Soviet Union, focusing on possible common perspectives of northerners for post-Soviet city development.
  • Analyse the implications of successful and failed economic diversification of cities for settlement and movement decisions of their inhabitants.
  • Explore the theoretical implications of community viability research in the North for general understandings of sustainable communities, the socio-cultural impacts of industrial contraction and non-economic determinants of decisions to stay or move.

The research was embedded into the methodological canon of BOREAS-MOVE. The use of anthropological methods of participant observation, various forms of in depth interviews conducted locally, the recording of oral history and personal memory, will provide a strongly needed in depth perspective of the view of individual community members to the general research question. In addition, this project will make use of quantitative statistical and demographic baseline information provided by a partner project within ‘MOVE’ financed by the NSF of the USA (MOVE IP 5).



Fieldsite Novyi Urengoi, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Siberia 
(F. Stammler).

More information
Project leader: Dr Florian Stammler

Funded by Finnish Academy, under the auspices of the ESF Eurocores Programme BOREAS, funding Period: November 2006 – 2010.

MOVE was an endorsed IPY (International Polar Year) project (no 436).