Iceland: mobility and flexibility in the face of change

Urbanization trends and the social impacts of economic change are macro social and economic themes today but rarely do we look more closely at the impacts on local and rural people. Anna Karlsdóttir has recently looked more closely at the women’s perspectives in Husavık village, NE Iceland, in a study done after Iceland’s economic collapse. Over the years leading up to the collapse, the village had gone from a fishing and agricultural services center to one focusing more on tourism and whale watching. Even before the economic crisis, under the fisheries quota system inhabitants had more limited access to fisheries resources and out-migration was already occurring among the young. This study of young women focused on the ‘agency perspective, emphasizing their own power to make decisions about where to live’, plus the effect of external circumstances/structures. Family ties and social relations were found to be the dominant reasons women chose to live in the village. Men were more mobile in seeking employment in changed economic conditions and women more flexible in what employment they would take but also in shouldering greater home duties; their mobility depends greatly on social relations

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