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Northern Neighbours

Scotland and Norway since 1800

Edited by John Bryden, Ottar Brox, Lesley Riddoch

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A topical, comparative study of the economic, social and political development of Norway and Scotland since 1800

Northern Neighbours explores the reasons for, and outcomes of, the social, political and economic divergence between Scotland and Norway over a period encompassing 500 years, in an engaging and comprehensive way. This accessible comparative study takes a closer look at the links between suffrage, property ownership and the process of democratisation and distribution of political power, land use and reform, the relative movement of populations, the process of industrialization, and rights of access. It offers a thorough analysis of the history of religion, education and finance in both countries, and explores the exploitation of their rich natural resources, and the resulting contrast in their fortunes. The authors also pose timely questions about the future of both countries; whether the economic and social disparities between the two can be addressed, and if the Nordic model could provide a basis for a realistic and effective development strategy for Scotland, were it to become an independent nation.

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Preface by Tom Devine
1. Introduction, John Bryden, Erik Opsahl, Ottar Brox & Lesley Riddoch
2. Towards a Theory of Divergent Development, John Bryden
3. Cousins Divided? Development in and of political institutions in Scotland and Norway since 1814, Øivind Bratberg & Nik. Brandal
4. Agrarian Change in Scotland and Norway: Agricultural Production, Structures, Politics and Policies since 1800, John Bryden & Agnar Hegrenes
5. The Evolution of Local Government and Governance in Scotland and Norway, Eberhart Bort, John Bryden & Karen Refsgaard
6. Industrial Development and North Sea Oil: Contrasts from Norway and Scotland, John Bryden & Ottar Brox
7. Reflections on the Making of Norway, Ottar Brox
8. Money and Banking in Scotland and Norway, John Bryden & John Keith Hart
9. Religion in Scotland and Norway, Arne Bugge Amundsen & Michael Rosie
10. The Nordic Welfare Model in Norway and Scotland, Mary Hilson & Andrew Newby
11. Access, Nature, Culture and the Great Outdoors – Norway and Scotland, Lesley Riddoch
12. Education in Norway and Scotland: Developing and re-forming the systems by Bronwen Cohen & Wenche Rønning
13. The Differential Impacts of the Two World Wars in Norway and Scotland, Tore Petersen
14. Conclusions, Lesley Riddoch, Ottar Brox & John Bryden

About the Author

John Bryden is a Political Economist. He is Emeritus Professor of Human Geography at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and has worked as research professor with the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute since 2008. John has been a Government advisor, and was external advisor to the Scottish Land Reform Policy Group. He has been visiting scholar at the Universities of Guelph, Cornell, Missouri-Colombia, and Pretoria as well as at the Centre for Development Studies in Kerala, India, and at the University of Pretoria.

Ottar Brox is a former professor of sociology and planning at the University of Tromsø, and Senior Researcher, Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research. He has published about 25 books, most of them in Norwegian, on community and regional development, rural industries and immigration. He has also served as a member of the Norwegian Parliament and the Oslo City Council.

Lesley Riddoch is one of Scotland’s best known commentators and broadcasters. She won two SONY awards for radio programmes with BBC Scotland, presented Radio 4’s You & Yours and BBC 2’s Midnight Hour. Lesley was assistant editor of The Scotsman and Contributing Editor of the Sunday Herald. She’s a regular Scotsman columnist, co-founder of the policy group Nordic Horizons and author of Blossom – What Scotland Needs to Flourish.


'. . . a fascinating study of comparative history . . . the historical background leads into pertinent assessments of how far the much-vaunted 'Nordic Model' of higher taxation and a more potent welfare state is actually fit for purpose in Scotland given the radically different historical formations of the two countries. Here the volume contributes effectively not only to an understanding of the past but also to an important aspect of the constitutional and public policy debates of today and into the future.'

- Professor Sir Tom Devine

'This is a thought-provoking book which offers insights into some of the key similarities and many of the differences between these two nations.'

- Mike Danson, Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Review

'Individual chapters or the book as a whole will enrich any graduate course addressing land reform, land grabbing, the agrarian question, or development theory. Beyond the classroom, and beyond academia, the book is a valuable contribution not only to debate about the futures of Scotland and Norway, but also to the broader exploration of alternatives to neoliberalism.'

- Matthew Hoffman, Cornell University, Rural Sociology