University of Oulu

Simo Sarkki, Hannu I. Heikkinen, Vesa-Pekka Herva, Jarkko Saarinen, Myths on local use of natural resources and social equity of land use governance: Reindeer herding in Finland, Land Use Policy, Volume 77, 2018, Pages 322-331, ISSN 0264-8377,

Myths on local use of natural resources and social equity of land use governance : reindeer herding in Finland

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Author: Sarkki, Simo1,2; Heikkinen, Hannu I.1; Herva, Vesa-Pekka3;
Organizations: 1Cultural anthropology, University of Oulu, P.O Box 1000, FI-90014, Finland
2Vaartoe – Centre for Sami Research. Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
3Archaeology, University of Oulu, P.O Box 1000, FI-90014, Finland
4Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, FI-90014 Finland
5School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2021-02-26


Previous literature on social equity has focused on procedure, distribution and recognition related to land use governance. We propose novel approach to examine social equity by following ideational turn with an aim to explore globally used and locally persistent myths that (mis)inform governance in practice and effect on the three dimensions of social equity for reindeer herding in northern Finland. We take synthetizing approach and elaborate and employ a comparative cognitive mapping method to classify the reviewed literature according to its linkage to the three dimensions of social equity, and type of relationship (utilizing, questioning, contextualizing) to the examined four myths. The myths of “tragedy of the commons”, “non-human wilderness ideal”, “noble savages”, and “majority will constituting democracy” are persistently used in land use governance mainly because they provide justifications for furthering particular interest. Yet, these myths are also widely questioned due to the problems that their employment produces for reindeer herders. Furthermore, the background assumptions of the myths are often somewhat problematic. We discuss reinterpretation of these myths revolving around 1) a holistic approach, 2) considering non-indigenous local people as noble savages, 3) problems of melding herders as a stakeholder group similar to other groups, 4) steps from majority democracy towards self-governance, 5) whether social equity can be bought, and 6) biocultural diversity. These reinterpretations can inform land use policy and governance also beyond the case study. Therefore, critical view on the explanatory and constitutive powers of myths should be part of the portfolios to achieve social equity.

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Series: Land use policy
ISSN: 0264-8377
ISSN-E: 1873-5754
ISSN-L: 0264-8377
Volume: 77
Pages: 322 - 331
DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.05.055
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
616 Other humanities
Funding: The study was performed within ReiGN “Reindeer Husbandry in a Globalizing North – Resilience, Adaptations and Pathways for Actions”, which is a Nordforsk-funded “Nordic Centre of Excellence” (project number 76915). We like to thank also projects “Primary Industries and Transformational Change” (Pitch) funded by Research council of Norway; and “Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities” (REXSAC) Nordic Centre of Excellence, funded by NordForsk, for supporting our work.
Copyright information: © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (