Island Communities’ Viability in the Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russian Arctic: The Role of Livelihoods and Social Capital
Julia Olsen
Marina Nenasheva
Grete Kaare Hovelsrud
Gjermund Wollan
Academic article
Арктика и Север
Year published:
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, local communities have been adapting to new political and socioeconomic realities. These changes have prompted dramatic outmigration among rural populations, especially in the Russian Arctic. Despite these changes, some communities remain viable, with some residents exploring new economic opportunities. This study uses findings from qualitative interviews to understand what factors shape community viability, interviewing residents and relevant regional stakeholders in two case areas in the Arkhangelsk oblast: the Solovetsky Archipelago in the White Sea and islands in the delta of the Northern Dvina River. The results indicate that community viability and the reluctance of community members to leave their traditional settlements are shaped by livelihoods, employment opportunities, and social capital. Social capital is characterized by such empirically identified factors as shared perceptions of change and a willingness to address changes, place attachment, and local values. We conclude that further development or enhancement of community viability and support for local livelihoods also depends on 1) bottom-up initiatives of engaged individuals and their access to economic support and 2) top-down investments that contribute to local value creation and employment opportunities.