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The Cultural Construction of Equality in Norden

  • Bo Stråth
Chapter
Part of the Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference book series (ATSIAD)

Abstract

This chapter argues that the Nordic countries managed to keep the tension between freedom and equality under better control than elsewhere in Europe. This is something different from arguing about concepts like freedom and equality in absolute terms. The control of the tension between freedom and equality might be seen as a Nordic Sonderweg, which dealt with the political and cultural implementation and management of the vision of equality. The Nordic specificity was that the bønder (farmers) were both the object of a Romantic idealization of a heroic past going back to the world of the sagas, and an actively participating subject in political processes. Norden became, in some sense, more equal than many other societies, and the people’s movements were crucial in this development. When trying to come to terms with new kinds of inequalities when industrial capitalism was spreading, the people’s movements gave the debate a particular twist. Ideals of equality were connected to ideals of positive freedom following Isaiah Berlin and to ideals of self-realization through bildning.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Stråth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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