Research Themes

Four main research themes guide the work of the northern network. Each theme involves coordination by a co-investigator and a community partner.

Theme 1: A Profile of the Social Economy in Northern Canada

Dr. Chris SouthcottCoordinated by Dr. Chris Southcott, Lakehead University

An important initial task of the Northern node is to establish the social economy as a research priority and to solidify linkages between social economy organizations, the territorial colleges, and university-based researchers. This will be partially achieved through the establishment of a categorization and inventory of existing social economy organizations.  Using questionnaire surveys and interviews, the problems and issues facing these organizations will be investigated in an attempt to delineate both the issues obstructing social economy development in the North and the best available assets to enhance this development. Social economic contributions and successes can also be identified and highlighted. 

Included in this theme will be a project that seeks to analyze existing quantitative data sources related to the social economy. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic are two data sources that have potential to yield information about the state of the social economy among Northern Aboriginals and the relationships between social economic participation and other socio-demographic variables.  Questions in both surveys provide information relating to health and well-being, economic activity, participation in traditional activities, feelings of empowerment, social relationships relating to sharing and gifting.


Theme 2: Resource Regimes and Social Economy in the North

Dr. Brenda ParleeCoordinated by Dr. Brenda Parlee, University of Alberta

Projects associated with this theme will look at the past, present and potential impact of varying resource extraction regimes on the development of the social economy and the evolution of government programs.  It will examine differing resource regimes based on the type of resource, the conditions of the resource development, and co-management conditions. Using a variety of indicators, research will attempt to determine which conditions best promote social economic development.  This will enable researchers to work with communities to help define their community development preferences. For several projects differing co-management regimes will be examined and comparisons made. Evaluation of co-management systems will provide insight into their potential to improve social economic activities and community resilience. The impacts of varying arrangements on social economic development in the north including devolution, land claim settlements and implementation agreements will be examined to evaluate effectiveness and relationships in the social economy. Another project under this theme will evaluate the experiences and contributions of small-scale community resource-based enterprises. This will help to define potential contribution of such "alternative" development to the social economy of Northern communities.

Theme 3: The State and the Social economy in the North

Dr. Frances AbeleCoordinated by Dr. Frances Abele, Carleton University

A series of research projects will look at the past, present and potential impact of the state and public policy on the social economic development in the North.  One project will build upon past research that examined the state promotion of co-operatives in the North that have become dominant business structures in many Northern communities.  Another research project will examine current educational practices and curricula with a view to assessing their impact on the social economy.

Theme 4: Indigenous Communities and the Social Economy

Dr. David NatcherCoordinated by Dr. David Natcher, University of Saskatchewan

A key objective for this theme is to enhance our understanding of the relationship between sharing, a subsistence economy, traditional indigenous cultures and values, and social cohesion in Northern communities. One project will examine the transformation that this traditional model of social economy has undergone as it was exposed to new influences. Continued research that looks at the evolution and effective performance of the traditional sharing social economy of Northern indigenous communities is needed.

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