front cover of Children's Literature in the Nordic World
Children's Literature in the Nordic World
Charlotte Appel and NIna Christensen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
This volume introduces an international readership to the role books have played in the lives and upbringing of young people in the Nordic countries from the 1750s until today. Charlotte Appel and Nina Christensen look beyond an overview of noteworthy texts and characters to address the region’s distinctive reading cultures and the interactions between literature and changing views of childhood, with a special focus on Denmark.

The emergence of a dedicated market for children’s books in the Global North coincided with national school reforms, when Luther’s Small Catechism started to be supplemented—or replaced—by new books published for and about young readers, learners, and citizens. Children’s use of books and media is closely related to adults’ wishes to influence the present and future of a child through instruction, entertainment, or play. Chapters point to strong continuities as well as remarkable changes in the relationships between child readers and adult authors, artists, publishers, teachers, librarians, and parents through the centuries.

Focusing on children as the central users and producers of texts, this interdisciplinary and transnational history shows how children’s exposure to and use of media impacted the Nordic welfare state, and vice versa. As narratives for young audiences are continuously rewritten, republished, and adapted into new forms, this pithy synthesis brings forward new knowledge about the material and social history of books, literature, and childhood.

front cover of Consensual Policy-making in the Nordic World
Consensual Policy-making in the Nordic World
Peter Munk Christiansen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
This book examines the model developed in the Scandinavian countries for handling labor market relations between employers and employees—a model that has secured flexible and well-functioning labor market relations with comparatively high remuneration in case of sickness or unemployment. Consensual—and comparatively efficient—policies have likewise been pursued in agricultural, industrial, environmental policies, and in many policies related to public services.

The preconditions for these policies are strong civil societies, that is, strong capacities for collective mobilization and collective action among groups, relatively strong unitary states, and high levels of generalized trust. The institutional apparatus of these consensual policies has been labeled corporatism. Scandinavian corporatism has implied consent to a norm of affected interests. Groups that are supposedly affected by state policies have access to the processes leading up to political decision-making and are involved in the implementation of policies. This access often has public commissions or committees charged with preparing political decisions and delivering advice, as well as policy implementation committees.

Corporatist and consensual policymaking come at a price. The exchange between interest groups (in pursuit of policy influence) and state actors (in pursuit of information and political support from groups) tends to be time-consuming and confined to solutions that are accepted by all actors. Corporatist policies are consequently not very conducive to more radical reforms. After the heyday of corporatist policymaking in the 1970s, all the Scandinavian countries have loosened their corporatist structures to pave the way for reforms.

front cover of Democratization in the Nordic World
Democratization in the Nordic World
David Delfs Erbo Andersen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden enjoy some of the happiest populations and highest standards of living in the world, thanks in part to stable, democratic systems of government. Here, David Delfs Erbo Andersen presents a syncretic history of political and socioeconomic developments in the three Scandinavian countries since the early modern period, and contrasts their peaceful transitions with the more dramatic histories of otherwise similar European countries, like France and Germany. Unlike these and many other countries—the United States among them—Scandinavia’s transition to democracy from monarchy was not marked by major violent upheavals or extreme political antagonism. 

Rather, Scandinavia’s peaceful process of democratization owed itself to the development of a penetrative bureaucracy in the early modern period and the activism of cooperative associations, first of farmers in the early nineteenth century and then of industrialized workers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thanks to the gradual, relatively consensual adoption of political reforms and social norms, the history of “Nordic democratic exceptionalism” today helps account for the ongoing stability of the Scandinavian countries.

front cover of Economic Performance in the Nordic World
Economic Performance in the Nordic World
Torben M. Andersen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
The Nordic countries stand out in international comparisons for having both high living standards and low inequality. The welfare state and public sectors are large and the tax burden is high. How have these countries managed to achieve such favorable economic performance? 

Economist Torben M. Andersen shows how the Nordic model rests on two pillars: the social safety net, which offers income compensation to the majority of those unable to support themselves, and the provision of services like education, childcare, and healthcare to all. The Nordic model can be characterized as one of employment, since its financial viability rests on a high labor participation rate with few working poor. 

Andersen lays out the structure of the model and highlights factors important for understanding its economic performance. He then looks into specific policy areas based on Denmark's experiences regarding labor market policies (flexicurity), pension systems, and preparation for an aging population; and addresses the challenges arising from new technologies and globalization.

front cover of Energy in the Nordic World
Energy in the Nordic World
Mogens Rüdiger and Anna Åberg
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Norway and Sweden are among the biggest consumers of energy per capita, yet the Nordic nations also lead the world in clean power production and have ambitious goals of decarbonizing their energy systems by 2050. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland vary drastically in geography and the availability of natural resources, but each consistently generates electricity from renewable sources at multiple times the average rate of other high-income countries.

Mogens Rüdiger and Anna Åberg present a concise and timely history of energy production, trade, and consumption in Norden, starting with a review of the regional energy mix—from wind, solar, tide and wave, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, coal, and gas sources. Brief chapters describe the diversity of Nordic energy markets, assess how far the green transition has come, and explore what comes next as global crises, domestic politics, and technological developments present novel challenges and opportunities. Energy infrastructures and economic activities, Rüdiger and Åberg argue, serve as unique cultural focal points in the region. The coauthors summarize the national policy frameworks for the sector as well as the key energy and economic indicators used in infrastructure planning, regulation, and the opening of the electricity and gas markets to free competition. 

Energy in the Nordic World is the essential primer to the power markets at the heart of Europe’s energy transition. 

front cover of Equality in the Nordic World
Equality in the Nordic World
Carsten Jensen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
By most measures, the Nordic countries regularly rank among the best in terms of equality and business friendliness. Political scientist Carsten Jensen delves into what is exceptional about equality in the region, and outlines “the four equalities” that set it apart: economic, intergenerational, gender, and health.

The four types of equality have their origins in unique political compromises made in the twentieth century. The resulting social market economies of these countries affect their growth and levels of equality even today.

front cover of Folklore in the Nordic World
Folklore in the Nordic World
Thomas A. DuBois
University of Wisconsin Press, 2024
In seven concise chapters that document both the history of Nordic folkloristics and the ongoing vivacity of Nordic folklore today, Thomas A. DuBois demonstrates how the informal, traditional elements of a culture or subculture are an integral and vibrant part of the Nordic world.

From methods of preparing suovabiergu (smoked reindeer meat) in Sápmi, to celebrating graduation by “running the falls” at Uppsala University in Sweden, to massive folk music festivals in Finland and tales of supernatural visitors bestowing baby names in Iceland, folklore offers unique insights into the everyday life of Nordic society. The study of Nordic folklore began in the nineteenth century, when early folklorists imagined that the true character of a nation could be found among the tales of the peasantry. Today, the theories, tools, and institutions developed by influential folklorists in the Nordic region continue to lead the way in documentation, preservation, and analysis of folklore.

front cover of Happiness in the Nordic World
Happiness in the Nordic World
Christian Bjørnskov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2021
Denmark is consistently among the countries with the happiest and most satisfied populations, and it regularly places at the very top with the rest of the Nordic countries in international surveys. Why do the Nordic countries as a whole constitute the happiest region in the world? 

Many experts attribute the region's high levels of happiness to factors such as greater relative national wealth and well-functioning institutions. Yet, a number of other countries in Europe and parts of Asia share those qualities and rank far lower in life satisfaction. Others credit the region's high levels of happiness to its welfare state model, but these have changed considerably over time—and Iceland does not share this feature. 

Instead, economist Christian Bjørnskov argues that the most important factor to come out of international comparisons is the importance of social trust—the ability to trust other people one does not know personally. The populations in three of the five countries are also characterized by a very strong sense of personal freedom. These two key factors contribute to a fuller and richer life. Bjørnskov ends by discussing to what extent these factors can be exported to other parts of the world. 

front cover of Peoplehood in the Nordic World
Peoplehood in the Nordic World
Ove Korsgaard
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

front cover of Social Trust in the Nordic World
Social Trust in the Nordic World
Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Christian Bjørnskov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Study after study has shown that Scandinavia is the most trusting region in the world. Danes in particular trust other people and organizations—including strangers, businesses, governments, law enforcement, and media—more than the citizens of any other country. And countries with deep pools of social trust are populated by individuals who cooperate with each other in ways that allow public and private institutions to function more efficiently and cheaply.

Is the Nordic countries’ high level of social trust just as important for creating prosperity and happiness within a population as other, more tangible economic factors? If so, where does this stock of social trust in Scandinavia come from? Does it help to explain the development of the universal welfare states and their surprisingly high business competitiveness? Can other nations learn from the region and apply that knowledge to settings where social trust levels are low or in danger of being eroded?

Social trust has proven economic value, and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen warns that its benefits should never be taken for granted. Trust can dissolve and vanish quickly, and once gone, it is very difficult to rebuild. Governments and corporations are gradually increasing their control over people’s public and private lives, with predictably worrying results. When people feel taken advantage of or lied to, public confidence evaporates. Since strong social cohesion drives long-term prosperity, Nordic exceptionalism on maintaining and restoring trust offers valuable lessons.

front cover of Urban Planning in the Nordic World
Urban Planning in the Nordic World
Ellen Braae
University of Wisconsin Press, 2022

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