Community Work in the North — Merging Economy and Psychology



The main topic of this article is a presentation of, and reflections upon contributions from the field of Psychology, System Theory, Community Work and Family Therapy in community development projects The projects have been realised through the University of the Arctic, a cooperative network of universities, colleges and other organisations committed to higher education and research in the north. The project partners in those projects are North Eastern Federate University, named after M.K. Ammosov, Institute of Finance and Economics and Development Psychological Aid Centre, Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russian Federation and Finnmark University College, Alta, Norway. Nadezdha Melnikova and Eva Carlsdotter Schjetne have developed a working model based on three methodological perspectives, Community and Cultural Psychology, System Theory and Humanistic Psychology. In the systemic approach to psychosocial strain and problems the salutogenetic and resilience perspectives are emphasised. The article pays great attention to building an atmosphere of trust, establishing communication between residents by discussion methods, teaching communication based on a subject-subject model, and Virginia Satir’s approach to communication; recognition of the unique experience of the population; taking into account the ethnocultural component. The active role of rural women in business development is revealed. The importance of Family Therapy is also being discussed. The role of psychologists in the implementation of interdisciplinary projects is shown. The importance of the psychologist’s humanistic orientation in creating a developing situation is also described. The necessity of moving away from the role of an expert is shown.

General Information

Keywords: community development, communication, сultural psychology, system theory, humanistic psychology, family therapy

Journal rubric: Review and Analytical Articles

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The article represents the results of the research project “Innovation development of the Northern territories of Russia” held in 2009–2012 by the North-Eastern Federal University named M. K. Ammosov with support of Grant program “Scientific resources development of higher school”, in cooperation with the Arctic University. We are grateful to Natalia N. Okhlopkova, professor, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Director of the Institute of Finance and Economics, NEFU named after M. K. Ammosov in 2002-2012, for the invitation to the project and the organization of coopera- tion between psychologists and economists. Оur special thanks to Oksana D. Romanova, Ph.D., and Larisa Yu. Pisarevа, Ph.D., for the organization of joint work.

For citation: Schjetne E.C., Melnikova N.M. Community Work in the North — Merging Economy and Psychology. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2020. Vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 46–60. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2020.104.


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Information About the Authors

Eva Birgitta C. Schjetne, PhD in Psychology, UiT Norges arktiske universitet, Alta, Norway, e-mail:

Nadezhda M. Melnikova, PhD in Psychology, M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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