Long Run Transitions in Resource-Based Inuit Communities

  • Brooks A. Kaiser
  • Alexej Parchomenko
Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


We discuss a multi-trophic model of socio-ecological systems. The model helps identify historical governance gaps that gained importance with the introduction of non-Inuit trading that have created lingering legacies today. In the model, humans harvest and manage a base of living natural resources. Some of the humans can organize activities that increase the resource base and/or its harvestability. These increases create capital returns, with effectiveness dependent upon governance.

A change in the terms of trade within the existing socio-ecological systems through increased global contact changed relative values. Trade induced both direct changes, e.g. in the population and in the resource base, and indirect changes through institutional gaps. Examples include Arctic fox and Bowhead whales. Early on, Inuit and outside traders saw trades as mutually beneficial. Trade also introduced new technologies (e.g. guns, traps) that lowered costs, but increased resource pressures. These transformations changed the governance needs of the socio-ecological system. New economic challenges needed changes in stewardship and institutions. In particular, institutional solutions needed to address dynamic impacts from overharvesting and to assure that trade not only increased present day but also intertemporal well-being. Stewardship over new technologies and pressures evolved too slowly compared to the rate of economic change.


Natural resource dynamics Institutional change Socio-ecological governance Arctic Inuit economic development Traditional ecological knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business EconomicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkEsbjergDenmark
  2. 2.Affiliate Graduate Faculty, Department of Economics and UHEROManoaUSA
  3. 3.Sustainable Materials ManagementVITO NV, MolBelgium

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