Accepted Paper:

The value of local culture and everyday life practices for the development of remote rural areas  


Pilvi Hämeenaho (University of Jyväskylä)

Paper short abstract:

Practices of mutual help are natural part of everyday life and local culture in remote rural Finland. In this presentation these mundane practices of neighborly help are studied as civic activity that is vital for local well-being and for the development of rural areas.

Paper long abstract:

Helping others and working together is a natural part of living in rural Finland. The practices of "neighborly help" are based on need to overcome everyday life problems of rural residents. This help may come in many forms, ranging from singular actions like ride-sharing to relatively permanent practices like helping elders with the housework or baby-sitting in turns. Strong communal ties and sense of belonging are often seen as an essential part of local lifestyle. As such, neighborly help can be interpreted as a continuation of traditional, agrarian culture and its communal practices. Yet, the neighborly help of today can also be seen as an unofficial substitute for the official service system.

Finnish rural areas are vast and villages are situated far from cities and services. Providing welfare services to remote areas is costly and difficult for municipalities and the service network is sparse. Often the only help available for rural residents is provided by the other members of the local community. The creative tactics and strategies that villagers use to overcome everyday life problems have become valuable source for administration also. In recent years, these local solutions have been gathered up by various international and national agents. These "Good practices" are applied and used to overcome similar challenges in other regions. When studied from this perspective, the mundane, communal practices of local people become civic activity vital for rural well-being and development.

Panel P21
Collective creativity in everyday life: civil activity between hegemonic structures and flows of ideas