Norwegian Sociology and the Recognition of the Saami Minority


At a time when the Saami ethnic minority got little attention by the Norwegian public and the political authorities of the country, sociologists did much to raise public awareness about the conditions of this ethnic minority. In the postwar period of the 1950s and 1960s, sociologists of Norway focused to a large degree on social groups that fell outside the emerging welfare state. Norwegian sociology has been characterized by an approach named “problem-oriented empirism” and also by sociologists playing a vital role as public intellectuals. Sociology professor Vilhelm Aubert (1922- 88) coined the term “problem-oriented empirism” to characterize Norwegian sociology from the end of the Second World War to around 1975. Empirism refers to the importance of sociology being close to social reality. Problem-orientation refers to the importance of choosing research questions that are not only scientifically interesting, but also relevant to society. Vilhelm Aubert was also a leading figure among sociologists playing the role of public intellectuals in this period. Problem-oriented empirism and sociologists as public intellectuals have in particular been the case with regard to Saami research.

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Sand, H. (2014) Norwegian Sociology and the Recognition of the Saami Minority. Advances in Applied Sociology, 4, 135-140. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2014.45017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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