Settlements at the Edge
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Settlements at the Edge

Remote Human Settlements in Developed Nations

Edited by Andrew Taylor, Dean B. Carson, Prescott C. Ensign, Lee Huskey, Rasmus O. Rasmussen and Gertrude Saxinger

Settlements at the Edge examines the evolution, characteristics, functions and shifting economic basis of settlements in sparsely populated areas of developed nations. With a focus on demographic change, the book features theoretical and applied cases which explore the interface between demography, economy, well-being and the environment. This book offers a comprehensive and insightful knowledge base for understanding the role of population in shaping the development and histories of northern sparsely populated areas of developed nations including Alaska (USA), Australia, Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Finland and other nations with territories within the Arctic Circle.
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Chapter 19: Conclusion

Dean B. Carson


Dean B. Carson This book was introduced with a description of the ‘beyond periphery’ (or ‘eight Ds’) model of social and economic geography in sparsely populated areas (Carson and Carson, 2014; Carson et al., 2011). ‘Beyond periphery’ has been shown throughout the book to fit well with other theoretical approaches to understanding how even very small settlements in sparsely populated areas change over time. The book reveals aspects of path dependency, where settlements become ‘locked in’ to a particular demographic or economic structure. This is notably the case in settlements associated with mining and other resource developments, where path dependency leads to economic and demographic imbalance and makes it difficult to identify and pursue new opportunities (Chapter 3 in this volume). That these settlements, exposed to the ‘big’ economic drivers, can find it more difficult to manage their own processes of change than those with apparently less robust economic bases is perhaps reminiscent of the ‘resource curse’ applying at a local level (Ryser and Halseth, 2013). Contributions to the book also call upon theories of urban planning, which are rarely considered at the small scale, but which nonetheless provide important insights into how towns and villages evolve over time. There is an obvious tension in sparsely populated areas between a desire to have highly planned settlements – in order to help cope with extreme environments, or to contain social, cultural and environmental impacts – and a process of organic settlement in which individual towns and villages ‘advance and retreat’ (Enequist, 1960) as...

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