On the research that led to the findings..

Giving out chapter 2 right away; 

1.5 Research Method  

The chosen research method for this case study was interviews via e-mails, as the first two Coastal Sámi I came in contact with preferred this means of expressing themselves. The research was formulated in a questionnaire with open ended questions so the Coastal Sámi would have the option to write as short or lengthy as desirable. The first part of the interviews was done in the middle of June, before the main holiday started in Norway. The literature review set out to complement the Coastal Sámi replies, both to strengthen their validity, but also to provide evidence that what my informants were suspecting in many cases could be assured with recent findings on how oil affects matters concerning the Coastal Sámi. While I was writing the literature review, I constantly tried to retrieve contact with the institutions of the High North who worked on Sámi related issues. In August, when the main holiday was over, positive response on participating was received, and as I was hoping for a high number of participants an online questionnaire was made, making it easier to both further distribute the survey within the Coastal Sámi community, but also for treating the data afterwards. 

1.6 Approach

To meet the aims and objectives of this dissertation I have approached the topic twofold with both a thorough literature review, as the dissertation concerns a nation that is not the UK, I found it necessary to give the reader the full information of how legislative procedures works in Norway. As the literature review aims to highlight the different perspectives on why oil exploration is necessary it was included the perspective on the potential energy that could come as a benefit from this source. In Norway the Sámi are not often referred to as being ‘indigenous’ but are rather just referred to as being Sami, therefore it is my view that the indigenous question has been lost from the debate and hence the legal rights that comes with being recognized as an indigenous population inhabiting a resource area that has been theirs for 10.000 years (Porsanger Sameforening 2013). This leads to the inclusion of how an oil spill would affect this activity that has been going on for such a vast period of time, and whether this is the potential end point of traditional Coastal Sámi livelihood. Food security and how the health of Arctic species are affected by oil is a great concern to the Sámi, and should therefore be a considerable factor for decision makers, and is therefore left in this dissertation. A brief description on how seismic shooting affects Arctic marine life is necessary, as to explain how intertwined and fragile the symbiosis of the Arctic eco system really is. The official concerns in an open hearing from the Norwegian Environmental Movement and the Sámi Parliament are included as to show what the main arguments against oil exploration were at the time that the decision to open up the South-East Barents Sea was made. Climate change in the Arctic is a factor that both enables the potential oil business, but climate change is also a hazard for the Coastal Sámi livelihood in itself, so a brief chapter is dedicated to this factor. The official recommendation report that was made on how the Sámi would be affected by oil activity in the South-East Barents Sea was based on two major studies that have been done in Norway, the first in 2003 and the second in 2008. I include these to highlight that important facts are not given as much significance as they should, given what is at stake. Then there will be a paragraph with the current facts on how oil appears in ice covered waters as the reader will have all the facts based on a combination of chapter 2 of the dissertation, which presents answers from the Coastal Sámi population. These two main parts of the dissertation will culminate in a set of recommendations to decision makers emphasizing the potential risk involved when opening the Arctic to the oil industry and how the need to think of potential risks with a worst case scenario in mind is the best way to be prepared if an oil spill were to occur. 

2.0 Methodology and data 

In the introduction I have presented the context this master dissertation is written in, namely the Coastal Sámi perspective of Arctic oil spills. Following this, I will now present the theoretical background this study is based upon. I will further explain how the case study and research material was gathered, and how this is linked. Afterwards I will discuss my sample of informants for the case study and what methodological challenges I encountered while collecting the data. Lastly in the methodology chapter, I will discuss the treatment of the collected data. 

2.1 Grounded Theory 

For the case study of interviewing the Coastal Sámi inhabitants of the northernmost municipalities in Norway, I found it appropriate to use grounded theory. According to (Mjøset 2007) grounded theory was a program launched by Glaser and Strauss in 1967 to systematize the second, post-war Chicago school’s perspective, and is considered to be the most developed and independent program for theory on a lower level. The thought behind the theory is that if you only seek to verify existing knowledge, then nothing new can be gained. With this case study I wanted to fill the gap between what information the Coastal Sámi either knew, had been given by authorities or what they suspected about how a possible oil spill would affected their immediate nature, and what knowledge is currently available concerning how oil in ice covered waters behaves. The purpose of using grounded theory is that by setting a clause around all previous knowledge and culture dependent prejudice one will be more open to the full empirical experience that one will acquire through the field work. However, grounded theory does not demand that no assumptions are made beforehand. It is on the other hand consistent with that all observations are theory based, but it does demand that the empirical work is based on previous grounded theory in the applied topic. This is the case for this study, as the literature review views the two major studies done on the oil industries impact on the Coastal Sámi, and neither of these stated any other agenda than contributing to a field where information is scarce. What neither of these studies asked however, were questions regarding oil under ice, and oil near the Ice Edge and the Polar Front. 

The study ‘Social, Cultural, and Psychological Impacts of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill’ (Lawrence et. al. 1993) carried out an extensive research study on the consequences of 594 men and woman living in Alaska during the time of the Exxon Valdez spill. The study concluded that the oil spills impact on the psychosocial environment was equally important as the physical impacts the oil spill caused the environment. A comparable study ‘Disruption and stress in an Alaskan fishing community: initial and continuing impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill’ (Picou et. al. 1992) concluded that communities who are dependent on natural resources for their existence are particularly vulnerable to disasters that pollutes the biophysical nature. My case study builds on this knowledge and aims to show that the same factors applies for a Norwegian oil spill scenario.