Bears and Fears: Cultural capital, geography and attitudes towards large carnivores in Norway
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Original versionNorsk Geografisk Tidsskrift 2010, 64(4):185-198 10.1080/00291951.2010.528225
Recent studies and literature suggest that negative attitudes towards large carnivores may to a large extent be explained by ignorance and lack of certain aspects of cultural capital. Fear and resistance, it has been argued, can be overcome through spreading information and knowledge about carnivores and how to interact with them. This argument has, on the other hand, been interpreted as an example of inherent arrogance among urban elites, undermining the economic foundation and quality of life in rural areas. The article aims to analyse acceptance of bears in Norway among a representative sample of the population, to describe attitudes towards large carnivores, economic and cultural capital, the importance of physical and geographical closeness, and the extent to which and how these factors are interlinked. The analysis is based on two national quantitative surveys, carried out in 2005 and 2007. The findings show a clear, although small, increase in resistance to the existence of bears in Norway. The increase appears to be most marked among young people who have grown up in rural areas. The authors conclude that there is an increasing urban-rural divide on the issue of conservation policies and carnivore stock management.