Project 1b

Beyond Size: Examining Levels of Social Economy Development in Northern Canadian Communities

Project Completed, January 2010

Completed Thesis:
Understanding Levels of Social Economy Development: An Examination of Northern Canadian Communities
 

Thesis Abstract:

This study offers a preliminary analysis of the role specific social factors have on social economy development in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Because of the marked differences in levels of social economy development in Northern Canadian communities, this research attempts to explain these variations through an examination of social variables that have been identified as impacting levels of development.  Based on a review of the relevant literature, the social economy relies on the available social capital in each community and population size, education level, employment, mobility, age and resource dependency are identified as potential variables impacting the development of the social economy through their relation to social capital.  Three separate statistical models are run to identify the bivariate and multivariate relationships between the six explanatory variables and level of social economy development in each Northern community.  These statistical models are supplemented by data complied through a survey sent to Northern social economy organizations in an attempt to explain the varying levels of social economy development in Northern Canadian communities and test each of the six hypotheses in order to add to the dialogue on social economy development in Canada's North.

Summary report coming soon

Research Team

Dr. Chris Southcott, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University

Danielle McLean. Masters Student, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University Email: dfmclean@lakeheadu.ca
For more details contact Chris Southcott (Chris_Southcott@lakeheadu.ca)
 

Project Description:

This study aims to investigate why communities in Northern Canada display varying levels of social economy development. Previous research has linked high levels of social capital to increased social economy development, and in turn increased social capital. This link has been used as a means of capturing indicators of social economy development through the utilization of social capital indictors. By comparing levels of social economy development in communities within the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut with the social factors identified within social capital literature, the study examines what impact community-level social factors have on social economic development.


This study offers a preliminary analysis of levels of social economy development in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut through a community comparison, as well as a basic examination of community-level social indicators in an attempt to decipher why levels of social economy development vary in Northern Canadian communities. By using the established links between social capital and the social economy, social capital indicators such as human capital, unemployment rate, income, migration and diversity are used to compare communities according to population size in order to determine if they appear to impact the level of social economic development.

The research will result in a Masters Thesis and possible publication in an academic journal.

Methodology

The purpose of this thesis is to identify and examine what social factors appear to impact social economy development in Northern Canadian communities using variables identified through both social capital and social economy research. This exploratory research began with a thorough review of literature pertaining to the social economy, social capital and economic development with a  focus on Northern Canada and identified the variables to include in this study. The next step involved establishing how the social economy would be defined and what organizations would be included in the Northern-wide census, which would ultimately determine the level of social economy development in each community. Once the appropriate variables were identified, the economic, historical and demographic profiles of Northern communities were analyzed on order to determine how to compare levels of development. Three statistical models analyzed the relationships between the six variables and SED in order to determine the strength and direction of the variables and SED. Finally, as a research instrument a survey was designed and distributed in order to elaborate on the types of social economy organizations operating in the North and also to supplement and enrich the detail of the overall analysis. The information that was collected through the census provided the basis for determining the level of social economy development in each community and was then compared to the variables identified in the preliminary literature review in hopes of examining if the social variables appeared to impact social economy development in Northern Canadian communities.

 

Findings

The assembled list of social economy organizations located in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut reveals 1178 distinct organizations dispersed throughout 70 different communities. Of the 1178 identified groups 506 are located in the Yukon, 378 in the Northwest Territories and 295 are in Nunavut. Not surprisingly, the three territorial capitals Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit represent the highest levels of SED in each territory and account for 51% of all social economy organizations when combined. The rest of the 49% of organizations reside in 67 communities within the territories. The top ten communities with the highest levels of SED range from a high of 360 organizations in Whitehorse to just 15 in Haines Junction and the communities with the least number of organizations display only 1. This indicates that the scale of development is highly skewed in the direction of those few communities with many organizations. The territory with the highest level of development is the Yukon with 506 organizations identified within 17 separate communities. In the Yukon the top four communities represent 85% of all organizations, while the bottom five represent just 2% of SED. When comparing the total level of SED within the three territories, the top four Yukon communities represent 36% of total development while less than 1% of development occurs in the bottom five communities. The Northwest Territories ranks second in SED with 378 organizations dispersed within 28 communities. The five communities with the highest level of development represent 71% of territorial SED while the lowest five account for less than 1.5 %. These same communities represent approximately 23% and 0.5% of the collective SED respectively. There are 294 social economy organizations that have been identified within Nunavut's 25 communities. Comparing SED within the territory the top five communities account for 58% of SED while the bottom five represent approximately 7%; the top and bottom five communities account for 14% and less than 2% of collective SED respectively as well. Comparatively Nunavut appears to exhibit a more balanced presence of SED than both the Yukon and Northwest Territories as the gap between communities with higher and lower levels of SED is narrower both territorially and collectively.

 

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