A European Mining Boomtown Case Study. Toward a Sociological Theory of Boomtowns in a Global World?

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 67
Oral Presentation
Xaquin PEREZ SINDIN LOPEZ , Social Science, Gdansk University of Technology, Gdansk, Poland
By mean a case study, this paper aims to test many of the William Freudenburg’s theories on boomtown phenomenon. Apart from his contributions to the understanding of the social impact during and the following years after the construction of large scale projects, his theory has been especially enriching to describe the long term social consequences in the so called boomtowns. Judging by the results, the apparently boom experienced might not be such in many cases. It might be simply a rapid urban growth in the vicinity of the large scale project, but in contrast, the region as a whole, i.e. including municipalities around, might suffer, not only after the natural resource exhaustion but from the beginning of the activity, from shrinking. Secondly, results confirm Freudenburg’s theory on the addictive character of the natural resources dependent economies. Judging by the in-depth interviews conducted among social actors, the concept of development is truly limited to the hope of a new boom as those lived in the past. This hope is nurture by political institutions and trade unions who despite the closure of the mine and the fewer chance to repeat such boom, still struggle for attracting large scale industrial projects. The formers know about the electoral benefits and the latters would have more difficult its action in a more dispersed labor market. In other words, addition might not be limited to new mining boom only, such as Freudenburg suggests, but to merely “large companies”, like nuclear or celluloses. Additionally, evidence suggests that the boom might give way to a very particular community culture that overestimates the importance of the grandiosity for any kind of local affairs. These are some of the conclusion that will allow to build (upon Freudenburg´s legacy) a more consistent and global sociological theory on the boomtown phenomenon.