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In Gausdal, a mountainous community in southern Norway, a conflict involving dogsledding has dominated local politics during the past two decades. In order to understand local protests against this activity, in this article we apply discourse analysis within the evolving approach of political ecology. In this way, we also aim at contributing to the emerging trend of bringing political ecology “home”. To many people, dogsledding appears as an environmentally friendly outdoor recreation activity as well as a type of adventure tourism that may provide new income opportunities to marginal agricultural communities. Hence, at a first glance, the protests against this activity may be puzzling. Looking for explanations for these protests, this empirical study demonstrates how the opposition to dogsledding may be understood as grounded in four elements of a narrative: (1) environmental values are threatened; (2) traditional economic activities are threatened; (3) outsiders take over the mountain; and (4) local people are powerless. Furthermore, we argue that the narrative is part of what we see as a broader Norwegian “rural traditionalist discourse”. This discourse is related to a continued marginalization of rural communities caused by increasing pressure on agriculture to improve its efficiency as well as an “environmentalization” of rural affairs. Thus, the empirical study shows how opposition to dogsledding in a local community is articulated as a narrative that fits into a more general pattern of opposition to rural modernization in Norway as well as internationally.
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Keywords: Norway; discourses; environmentalization; modernization; narratives; political ecology; rural change

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1432 Ås, Norway., Email: [email protected] 2: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Gaustadalléen 21, N-0349 Oslo, Norway., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 2008

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