Klimpfjäll is a mountain village in the south of Lappland. In the middle of the 1970's a mine was set up in Stekenjokk about 20 km west of Klimpfjäll. A new housing estate was built, as an extension of Klimpfjäll, to accommodate the miners (about 170 people) and their families. This new part of Klimpfjäll was named, by the local inhabitants, Nybyn (The New Village), and the original village became known as Gammelbyn (The Old Village).
For many of the people, the move to Nybyn was not just a case of being provided with the opportunity to earn a living. It was part of a life-objective.
However, this way of life had an obstacle; the mine had a limited lifespan. A number of Nybyn's inhabitants could possibly remain in the village, even after the closing of the mine, but for the majority this was an impossibility. Nevertheless, the people still believed in the possibility of "saving" Nybyn as a whole, despite the unreasonableness of that belief. This was also the belief held by the local council, the state and the mining company.
I have named this phenomenon "mystification". The future of Klimpfjäll became a mystery. The people would rather not discuss the future of Klimpfjäll because they know that it does not exist, they, nevertheless, want to believe in it. It is this mystification that made the establishment of the mine possible, and which holds Nybyn together socially.
The Social Welfare Service in Vilhelmina had, for a long time, regarded Klimpfjäll as a social problem. The problem was defined as being traditional social problems, due partly to addiction and partly to loneliness. For this reason an action research project was started. But the real problem for the people of Nybyn was the uncertainty of the future. The project was doomed to fail.
Why should the people of Nybyn "go to evening classes" when their village was being threatened with closure? The project became just one element in the continuing mystification.
It was not possible to redefine the project as a "survival project", since everyone wanted to believe in a continue future for the mine.
In this study I have attempted to understand why it was impossible for the action research project to succeed. In understanding its failure I believe that we can also understand the people of Klimpfjäll.
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1990. , 253 p.
mystification, closure of the mine, action research, local communities in sparsely-populated areas, women in sparsely-populated areas, sense of solidarity