UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An exploratory study of underdevelopment and resource dependency in one northern hinterland community Laprairie, Carol Pitcher


Research on communities in Canada has generally-utilized a functional or systems approach. The metropolis-hinterland explanation of dependency is presented here as a way of arguing for the adoption of an alternative conflict or structure approach to the study of resource-dependent communities. Economic dependency largely determines the way in which hinterland citizens behave both collectively and individually. The basic argument put forth in this study is that the dependent status of the northern B.C. community of Terrace significantly determines the realities of power in hinterland communities, including the absence of collective responses to common problems and the patterns of individual accommodation to social conflict. In the resource community, dependency is coupled with transiency, uncertainty about the future and a rapacious economy. The system of stratification is rigid and closed; ethnic differentiation is persistent, employment opportunities for women and youth are limited, and institutions dictate much of community life as citizens are isolated from other alternatives. Terrace is characterized by a high degree of privatization which, combined with restricted social interaction, precludes the development of a strong sense of community and suppresses overt social conflict. This study examines the exercise and maintenance of local power, the effects of dependency, the powerlessness of some groups as measured by their accommodative responses and lack of collective action, and the consequent effects of social disorganization within the community. Documentation of life in Terrace relies upon demographic and survey data, complemented by interviews which elicit the attitudes and beliefs of a cross-section of community residents.

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