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Clarion Congress & Hotel, Titan


Bjørn Egil Flø, Norwegian institute of bioeconomy research (NIBIO).


Topic: Of betrayal came mistrust


Gradually, throughout my 20 years as a rural sociologist I have seen a growing mistrust to politicians, bureaucrats, institutions and even researchers. But the first 10 to 15 years I was almost blind for it, I was so busy doing what I thought was my job – finding concrete solutions to the rural communities different challenges – that I didn’t really listen to the stories they told me. But all changed when I met a retired fisherman on a pier towards the Westfjord a windy winter day in 2004.

This paper is a retrospective and partly a autobiographic text based on the authors own experiences from more than 7 years as an electrician at a shipyard in western Norway back in the 1980’ies, and data from different interviews with rural people all over Norway from 2004 till 2017.

In more and more of our rural communities, fishing hamlets and mountain villages people are feeling that they are drained out as a community and left to die alone. The politicians that grew up in the 1980’ies and onwards don’t reach them with their rhetoric anymore and they are feeling powerless and betrayed. The traditionally strong Norwegian rural policy have gone slowly from a rural policy were the state took the responsibility to a systematic individualization of the responsibility for own success. We have gone from a strong morally based rural policy to a neo-liberal rural policy defined by a naive believe in laissez-fair economy, privatization, tax-reduction, deregulation, free trade and reduction in public spending. Together with less political attention to rural issues, more professionalised politicians and an active degrading of the national state in favour of international agreement and global actors, a feeling of betrayal started to grow.  And the betrayal fed the mistrust

But there are still time, there are time to slow down. Time to start seeing, time to listen. Maybe that will help us to re-discover the importance and the mutual benefit of both urban and rural prosperity.

Go back to the workgroup WG 6