Atle Wehn Hegnes

Research Scientist

(+47) 902 77 083


Visiting address
Storgata 2-4-6, 0155 Oslo


The regulation and labeling scheme for PDO, PGI and TSG was set up in Norway in 2002, modeled on corresponding systems for geographical indications (GIs) in the European Union. The implementation of GI in Norway was demanding, causing administrators, producers, consultants and others to make a significant and all-round effort to adapt the scheme to the Norwegian food culture and the Norwegian food culture to the scheme. This chapter probes the theme of this mutual adaptation work and its consequences. Norway makes up the food-cultural context in this study, whereas Tørrfisk fra Lofoten (Stockfish from Lofoten (SfL)) is used as a specific case of a GI product. SfL was selected as unit for analysis mainly because it is also registered as a third-country GI product in the European Union. Including the Norway/EU dimension makes it possible to consider not only the local and national levels but also the multilevel dimension and complexity of GI systems as part of the analysis – making the power within, and the consequences of, the adaptation work even more complex and intriguing. The analysis is based on diverse forms of empirical material, such as document studies of laws, policy documents, other documents and interviews with people responsible for working out product regulations in producer organizations. Interviews have also been conducted with key informants representing public administrative bodies administering the regulation. The analysis is not dedicated to any specific methodological or theoretical tools but takes inspiration from an adapted set of perspectives to describe and understand the cultural adaptation work of GI schemes and products. The conclusion is that the evolution of GI in Norway, with SfL as the case study, can be understood as a chain of adaptations and adaptive practices necessary to unite the dynamic that occurs in modern global regulations’ ordering of the cultural status of traditional local products. The consequences of this food-cultural adaptation work give voice to and empower local actors and subordinate groups, but they can also be seen as instruments that hamper democratic forms of development.


This research note offers a critical-constructive discussion of the article ‘Class, Culture and Culinary Tastes: Cultural Distinctions and Social Class Divisions in Contemporary Norway’, written by Flemmen, Hjellbrekke and Jarness (FHJ) (Sociology, 2018(1)). Concerns are raised about the methods and the use of the data. A robustness analysis with alternative data and/or alternative methods is suggested. Conceptually, the analysis of FHJ is considered not to engage adequately with a more qualitative body of historical and ethnological literature, as well as the impact of Norwegian agricultural policy. To describe and understand the evolution of social meaning and social patterns of the consumption of ‘traditional’ Norwegian foodstuffs, a qualitative approach could have contributed constructively. Overall, wider implications for Bourdieu-inspired analyses of cultural consumption are addressed.