Dimensions, Practices and Dynamics in Cultural Adaptation Work: An Example from Norway

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Atle Wehn HEGNES , University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
My paper concerns the movement of an idea and a legal system. The idea is that a product’s quality can be determined by where it comes from. The legal system is known as Geographical Indications and enables protection under law of product designations for foodstuffs with a special geographical origin, tradition or characteristics. In 2002 a system for GIs (Protected designations) was set up in Norway modelled on corresponding systems in the EU.

I develop a grounded conceptual framework to understand the implementation, administration and the use of protected designations in Norway. I emphasize that the movement of ideas and legal systems is dependent on actor’s adaptation practices. More specifically I describe this as Cultural Adaptation Work (CAW). My analysis shows that the actors’ work with adaptations of meaning, social organization and materiality, during implementation, administration and use of the Norwegian scheme is important. They occur because opinions, forms of cooperation and products in Norway and Norwegian food culture do not always coincide with the food-cultural conditions which the EU scheme was founded.

To identify, describe, and understand how the implementation, administration and the use of Protected designations  is worked out I elaborate on the concepts of translation, reorganization and transformation, giving them a special meaning. In this regard translation refers to adaptations of meaning, reorganization refers to adaptations of social relations and transformation refers to material adaptations. These adaptation practices may furthermore be understood as elements of CAW.

I conclude that CAW takes place in the interplay between people’s translations of meaning, reorganization of social relationships and transformation of things. The interplay takes place in the tension between the global and the local, the old and the new.