Great Expectations? A Study among People involved in the Oil Economy in Norway

Anna Rauter

Current Status

Ethnographic fieldwork in Oslo commenced in September 2018

Project Duration

September 2017 – September 2021

Project Description

Anna’s four-year doctoral research project aims to study how people involved in the Norwegian oil economy conceptualise current and future ethical, economic, and environmental implications of the production and consumption of fossil fuels. The objectives of the study are:

1) To examine how people strategically involved in Norway’s oil industry conceptualise and value national oil production, Norwegian oil exports, and global oil consumption.

2) To understand their interaction with Norwegian, transnational, and global contexts such as the depletion of oil reserves, Arctic oil exploration, and fluctuations of oil market prices.

3) To investigate how present oil valuations and future oil projections relate to political, economic, and environmental decisions.

As the other projects in the Energy Ethics research team, this study is financed by the European Research Council (ERC), and is based in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The study involves a total of 12-15 months of fieldwork. The research methodology is on the one hand based on ‘participant observation’ (conducting research through observing and participating in the activities of a group of people such as at a company), and on the other hand on interviews. Anna is therefore looking forward to hearing from anybody who is interested in contributing to the study by sharing their views on the subject matter, or by inviting her to participate in their work activities (e.g. meetings or conferences).

Data will be collected in an explicitly non-judgmental and apolitical manner. Please note that as part of this research project we follow a strict data protection policy to protect the anonymity of any participants and their corporations. Should there be any concerns about data protection, please do not hesitate to ask for clarifications.


This PhD study with its focus on business executives is linked to Anna’s MA (Hons). thesis, which examined the emergence of a ‘business elite’ in post-socialist Mongolia. For this project she conducted two months of fieldwork in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The research methodology also consisted of participant observation and semi-formal interviews. The main finding was that power structures during Mongolia’s socialist era have evolved to form an elite business (and political) class with clout over the growing, natural-resource dependent economy.

Anna holds an MA (Hons). in International Relations and Social Anthropology from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.