Work creates community : the role of tourism activities in sustainable management of common pool resources in a northern european periphery community in Sweden
Abstract: The aim of this research is to analyze how tourist hosts in Gunnarsbyn, a rural community in northern Sweden, practice tourism and cooperate for sustainable use of common pool resources. The case study is descriptive of the infrastructural and demographic vulnerability involved in the livelihoods of many who work in the tourism industry in peripheral areas of Northern Europe. If cooperation in tourism in Gunnarsbyn is proved beneficial, it has the potential to empower sustainable development of the community. The analysis includes that the relevant variables involved in cooperation in this case study support a reinforcing relationship between i) learning and norm adopting individuals; ii) levels of reciprocity within the community; iii) cooperation and; iv) net benefits. Microsituational variables were identified by in-depth interviews that focused on their practice and understanding of the concept sustainable development. The broader contextual variables were identified with participatory qualitative system analysis using Causal Loop Diagrams. Analysis and comparison of the two categories of variables concluded that cooperation in tourism in Gunnarsbyn is beneficial and that tourism can function as the empowerment needed to activate drivers for sustainable development of Gunnarsbyn on a local level. This includes that the individuals are learning and reciprocal in developing a practice that is both sustainable for the community and environmentally friendly in general. They are adopting to limiting social conditions in their community and are confident that others in the community commit equally to meeting these challenges. Together they create community capital in projects and initiatives in tourism that have net benefits in the community, although they are small in scale and develop slowly. The main driver of this reinforcing relationship is the desire to sustain the community and the common interest of being able to continue living in the community and continue working with tourism. Standardization and centralization in national and municipal policies are the main limitations for sustainable development of this peripheral community, and for sustainable development of tourism as an employing industry in this area.
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