The Nordic Economic, Social and Political Model : Challenges in the 21st Century book cover
1st Edition

The Nordic Economic, Social and Political Model
Challenges in the 21st Century

ISBN 9780367134754
Published April 23, 2021 by Routledge
272 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Nordic Model is the 20th-century Scandinavian recipe for combining stable democracies, individual freedom, economic growth and comprehensive systems for social security. But what happens when Sweden and Finland – two countries topping global indexes for competitiveness, productivity, growth, quality of life, prosperity, and equality – start doubting themselves and their future? Is the Nordic Model at a crossroads?

Historically, consensus, continuity, social cohesion, and broad social trust have been hailed as key components for the success and for the self-images of Sweden and Finland. In the contemporary, however, political debates in both countries are increasingly focused on risks, threats, and worry. Social disintegration, political polarization, geopolitical anxieties, and threat of terrorism are often dominant themes. This book focuses on what appears to be a paradox: countries with low income differences, high faith in social institutions, and relatively high cultural homogeneity becoming fixated on the fear of polarization, disintegration, and diminished social trust. Unpacking the presentist discourse of "worry" and a sense of interregnum at the face of geopolitical tensions, digitalization, and globalization, as well as challenges to democracy, the chapters take steps back in time and explore the current conjecture through the eyes of historians and social scientists, addressing key aspects of and challenges to both the contemporary and future Nordic Model. In addition, the functioning and efficacy of the participatory democracy and current protocols of decision-making are debated.

This work is essential reading for students and scholars of the welfare state, social reforms, and populism, as well as Nordic and Scandinavian studies.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

Table of Contents

1. Always in crisis, always a solution? The Nordic model as a political and scholarly concept  2. Three driving forces: structural challenges for Nordic democracies in the 2010s  3. Lost land of bliss: imagined temporalities of the Nordic welfare state  4. More or less equality? facts, debates, and policies related to the Nordic model  5. Liquid neutrality: paradoxes of democracy in Finnish and Swedish NATO discussions?  6. The decline of Nordic social democracy  7. Conservatives at the crossroads: cooperating or resisting extremism and populism?  8. Nordic populists as hegemony challengers  9. Cultural policy and cultural diversity  10. Managing moods: media, politicians, and anxiety over public debate  11. Persistent paradoxes, turbulent times: gender equality policies in the Nordics in the 2010s  12. Adapting the Nordic welfare state model to the challenges of automation  13. Education 4.0. Nordic long-term planning and educational policies in the fourth industrial revolution

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Anu Koivunen is Professor of Gender Studies at the Faculty of Social Science at Tampere University, Finland, on leave of absence from professorship in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Jari Ojala is Professor of Comparative Business History at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is also the Vice Dean at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, responsible for research and innovations.

Janne Holmén is Associate Professor of History of Education at Uppsala University, Sweden, and researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History, Södertörn University, Sweden.