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Small Facts and Large Issues: The Anthropology of Contemporary Scandinavian Society Author(s): Marianne Gullestad Source: Annual

Review of Anthropology, Vol. 18 (1989), pp. 71-93 Published by: Annual Reviews Stable URL: Accessed: 14/09/2010 05:38
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Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 1989. 18:71-93 Copyright ? 1989 by Annual Reviews Inc. All rights reserved

SMALL FACTS AND LARGE ISSUES: The Anthropology of Contemporary ScandinavianSociety
Marianne Gullestad
Departmentof Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637; and Center for Research in the Social Sciences, University of Trondheim,N-7055 Dragvoll, Norway

If anthropologyis truly to become a comparativestudy of society and culture, modem Europe and the United States must become an integral part of the subject matter. It is necessary to overcome the now often inevitable opposition between "us" and "them," between anthropology "at home" and "abroad."We have not only to look at "us" in the same way as we look at "them," but also to see "us" through "their"eyes. Many anthropologists therefore now recognize that it is an important task to identify and portraythe many versions of "us," as well anthropological as modestly to keep in mind that the polar opposition between "us" and "them"masks the fact that all the differentversions of "us"constituteonly a small fraction of the total social and cultural variation of the world. This is, I think, one useful perspective from which to look at the anthropological studies of contemporaryScandinaviansociety. Scandinaviais not quite "us"in the sense of being the home of anthropology,yet it is close to home. It is firmly a part of Western Europe, as well as being on one of its fringes. It is close to the anthropologist,but marginal in the discipline of anthropology.Together these ambiguitiesmake it possible to play creatively with the categories and thereby to contributeto deconstructingand breaking down the oppositions between "us" and "them," between on the one hand


I then presentthree attemptsto pull such ethnographiestogether into more comprehensivetheoreticalframeworks. 3I do not review the extensive and interestingliteratureon recent immigrantsto Scandinavia. nor do I treat the extensive literatureon the Sami. One may discern a movement towards new ways of chopping up society and reconstructingthe relationshipsamong the pieces. The review outlines both the critical opposition as well as the areasof overlap and the complementarityof these three attempts. and the review cannot in any way be exhaustive. The works on the Sami. In Europe. and the Faroe Islands are generally included not in Scandinaviabut included in the Nordic countries.72 GULLESTAD anthropologicalstudies of Europe and North America. with few exceptions an anthropologyof insiders and of outsiders who have settled in (49. are scheduled to be reviewed by Sharon Stevens in Annual Review of Anthropology 1990. Even with a limitation to mainlandScandinaviathe literatureis extensive. For reasons of space. The problemis just what kinds of issues and how large they can be. class-culture. Finland. and overarchingcultural categories. 2The recent history of the two anthropologicaldisciplines (social anthropologyand European ethnology) in the threecountriesis portrayedin several books and papers(21. Norway and Denmark. I limit this review to the anthropologyof Sweden. and mundane. 77.3 After spelling out the context for local anthropologies.trivial. 130). 97. 126.' The languages of these countries are mutually intelligible and their histories are closely intertwined. Denmark. 83. however.2 The anthropologyof these countriesis. these attempts can be named after their central concepts: life-mode. While the study of Scandinaviais a small partof social anthropologyas an academic discipline. and Finland. Iceland. Scandinavian studies in language and literature include Sweden. 61. the Faroe Islands.As a preliminary shorthand. This poses more acutely than elsewhere the questions of what the units of analysis are and how to trace the relationshipsbetween parts and whole. 127). However. within this region people are often more aware of the differences than the similaritiesin culture and ways of life. The focus of is not on "exotic"groups but on the "otherness" what is usually considered most ordinary. it is the main part of Europeanethnology in these countries. contraryto the anthropologyof Iceland (116). Norway. however. I start out with a presentation of some studies and perspectives that may be considered as building blocks for more comprehensive analyses. and on the other hand studies of the rest of the world. This is another general question that the anthropologyof Scandinaviamay serve to illuminate. 'In the United States. 94. doing anthropologicalfield work in this region means doing small-scale studies in complex large-scale societies. Iceland. The "small facts" that I have chosen to examine are ethnographicdata abouteveryday life. . Most anthropologistsagree with Clifford Geertzthat small facts speak to large issues (59). In addition. 103.

CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 73 THE PRACTICALCONTEXTS FOR LOCAL ANTHROPOLOGIES Just as colonialism provided one kind of context for anthropologicalstudies. the anthropologyof modem Scandinaviacan be examined in relation to its welfare states. anthropologistsand Europeanethnologists have had noticeable national impact in the sense that they have been able to influence the concepts and the ways of thinking of other social scientists. Many writersfind it difficult to strike a to balance between local relevance and contribution the international developthat ment of the discipline (77). Anthropology finds its niche in relation to other sciences in the context of welfare state differentways. the result of many factors over which bureaucrats politicians do control. Thereforeit is important more anthropologists from outside the region get involved in this field and that more indigenous researchersare encouragedto sharpentheir argumentsby feeding their findings back into internationalanthropologicalcontexts. Since the branchesof sociology with an interestin culture-the sociology of culture.Much research of potentialgeneralinterestto the discipline of anthropologyis writtenup and designed only for local consumption. the best anthropologyof Scandinaviais often well written. particularly quantitativesociology. a keen local interestin the anthropological perspectives has developed.For good and for bad. not have complete The reverse side of this local relevance is of course thatthe purely scholarly partof the work may suffer. by attempting. The "Scandinavianmodel" of social and economic development is characterizedby a strong emphasis on security. Actual decisions are. relatively sophisticated. safety. The welfare states encourage social scientists (including social anthropologists and European ethnologists)to do researchfor social planningand for generalenlightenment. planners. and relevant to a wide readership. It complements other disciplines. and however. Doing anthropologyat home in a peripheralpart of the Western world implies not only the oft-noted difficulty of taking too much for grantedbut also certain difficulties in presentation. anthropologicalfindings are folded back into local audiences and be- . but also the motherdiscipline. rationality. The international discipline has over the years and become more turned in on itself by being heavily "constructed" jargonized. and regulation. the sociology of religion and the sociology of knowledge-are weak. Not only the anthropologyof Scandinaviawould profit from this exposure. Although relatively few. One consequence of this is a belief in social engineering based on social science research. equality. and politicians in their respective countries. foresight. to be holistic and by taking cultural meanings seriously. In contrast.

Until recently the most established way of approachingthe relationship between part and whole throughthe parts has been througha version of the community study. The explicit focus of the volume is to demonstrate the usefulness of a theoretical perspective. Few Scandinavianistshave. 136)." from 1954 (2).what social networks do for people in terms of practical tasks and feelings of belonging (90. however. 29). An early studentof 'The main empiricalexample of ChapterI of Models of Social Organization(7) concernedthe symbolic interactionon a Norwegian fishing vessel. The most well-known example in this region is also one of the earliest:the British social anthropologist John Barnes's brief paper"Class and committee in a Norwegian Island parish. FredrikBarthinspireda whole generationof studentsby his message of the community as an arena where people continually create and recreate their society and culture(see for instance6. Exchanges in so-called informalsocial networksmay be seen as alternativesor supplementsto the market or to state bureaucracies. 17.4 He emphasized the method of observation(with an emphasison participation) taughta set of and participant action-orientedanalyticalperspectives. 69. John Barnes was among the first to apply the moder concept of social networks. 90). 119. 81. followed Barnes's and others' later formalizationsand quantificationsof network analysis (one exception is ref. 22. Above all he suggested that societies of different scale can be comparedby looking at how social encounters are constructed on the micro-level (8. .74 GULLESTAD come part of the process of how groups constantly define and redefine themselves. Through the social experience of a relatively marginal community in a complex society. combinedwith the (so the anecdotegoes) visual exposureto drying fishing nets. directly or indirectly. Through a series of in community studies. Many social anthropologistshave also been interested in how togetherness and distance are socially and culturally regulated (67. In 1966 Barthedited a small volume entitled The Role of the Entrepreneurin Social Change in NorthernNorway (6). Other papers thathe wrote from the same fieldwork(3-5) are not as well known as this one. BUILDING BLOCKS The works examined in this section provide a set of anchoringpoints for the three totalizing perspectives that I discuss in the following sections.Fredrik Barth's influence on the anthropologyof Norway is evident in a Festschrift with this as a focus (28). but he has also inspired. They have ratherbeen interestedin the content of social relations. 9). 122). 80. the risks of entrepreneurship an egalitariansociety are illuminated. social anthropologists and European ethnologists in Sweden and Denmark. These studies are inspiredby the traditionof British-stylesocial anthropology brought to Norway by Fredrik Barth.

Whathe provides is a way of thinking about households. Rather than treating the national political system and class relations as given external conditions. Implicit in most community studies is often a sharp opposition between the communityand the "big society" (state bureaucracies . but fishermen-farmers (fiskerbonder). as it were. and household viability. Northern Norwegians before the 1960s were not fishermen or farmers. The local communityshe has studiedwent throughdramatic changes because of a new bridge connecting the communityto the mainland and the city of Troms0. OttarBrox. The making of the working class (and thus one of the most importantconditionsfor developing the Norwegian version of capitalist economy and socialist politics) depended upon local processes of succession. and regions that has inspiredmuch discussion. Brox has summedup his work in a bold model of NorthernNorway's historicaldevelopment "fromcommons to colony" (25). 101) have. using a combination of many different resources.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 75 Barth. communities. for instance. 27) developed this theme further. rights to resources. pointed out that the typical social pattern in Northern Norway until the 1960s was households consisting of male fishermen and female caretakersand farmers (omsorgsbonder). to explain Norway by specifying the processes that could be studied empirically on the local level. he attempts.Through the very same processes local autonomy and national social and cultural variation were also maintained. contributeto explain why "old fashioned"combinationsof tradecompetedwell with the opportunities offered by the growth centers of the economy. While Brox gives an overall picture of regional processes in Northern Norway. but also the social aspects of local ways of life. etc). The bargaining power of the industrial workers was related to the ability and opportunityof localized households to create their own adaptations. fish processing industry. has in a series of books and publicationsabout Northern Norway (22-25. In this process a North Norwegian regional identity was born (125). Brox is intimatelyfamiliarwith the region he analyzes. Lisbet Holtedahlprovides an ethnographicdescriptionand analysis of how individual women and men experience and creatively adaptto these changes (87-89). Feminist anthropologists (52. One has to look at the strategiesof households for obtainingviability within the context of local communities. A point he emphasizes throughouthis career (23) is that it makes no sense to treat NorthernNorway as a bundle of separateeconomic sectors (fishing. Not only the economic aspects of subsistence productionand lower living costs. constructionwork. farming. and that this is importantfor the understandingof the present changes in this region. In the 1970s local people were drawn into a regionaljob marketlinked to the growth in public and privateservice. but this information is often takenfor grantedratherthanspelled out. In his most recent book aboutthe region.

143). he wrote Forortsliv [Life in a Satellite Town (35)]. where he compareda satellite town in modem Stockholm to a working class neighborhood of the past. anthropologistsand European ethnologists in Sweden and Norway realized early that contemporarycities are exciting places for doing comparative ethnography. rather than seeing a fundamental change in the community. the inhabitants have begun to feel isolated. Inspired by Ulf Hannerz(76).76 GULLESTAD of the capital). Daun phrases his argumentas a culturalcritique of a deplorable trend. go to restaurantsin Troms0. 114. with the consequence that the boundary between the community and the larger society now cuts right through the household (89). Women are unhappy with the surrounding"big society". there are other studies of ruralways of life framedas community studies (16. Young women experience this isolation as they attemptto keep the school and otherlocal institutionsin the community. In spite of the new bridge. startsewing circles for themselves instead of joining missionary associations to help others. The inhabitants belong sociologically to the workingclass (in . women and men in the community have adapted to the recent changes in different ways. Having published a local bestseller on a marginal community fighting for survival (34). According to her. However. or studies of women (20. they turnedto the cities. 142). and this may be seen as both a reflection upon and a reflection of Swedish culture. as well as in the younger women's sewing circles. 86. Holtedahl views the women as maintaining "traditional multiplex relationships. 91. That intimacy and work are two conflicting foci for ruralwomen is a view that is taken by Liv Emma Thorsenin her study of Norwegian farmerwomen (133-135). An alternativeinterpretation thatboth are is expressions of different stages of modernity. 136. 118). In the book he gives a detailed ethnographic portrayal of the familism of everyday life.The sewing circles may be seen as intimate and exclusive ratherthan as traditionaland multiplex (70). regional studies (106. and get new ideas about romanticlove in marriage." People are neither hostile nor friendly to their neighbors. One of the Scandinavianpioneers was Ake Daun. Young men experience it as frustration with local people whom they perceive as old fashioned. just indifferent. One main contention is that inhabitantsof modem cities typically develop what he calls "a culture of indifference. in spite of a pastoralisttendency. men are unhappy with the local community. studies of ways of life (31). Holtedahl gives this conventional approach a new twist. become interestedin home decorationand new ways of cooking. Holtedahl describes a whole series of changes in the women's lives: They start working in the fish-processing industry. However. My own first book was based on field work in an old centralareaof the city of Bergen (65)." These kinds of relationshipsare maintainedin the old women's missionary associations where everybody can participate. In addition.

and on the otherhandthe husbands'work as sailors (19) and employees in the offshore oil industry(128). Much researchhas centeredaroundnotions of work (138-140) and how to conceptualize the importantand intangible household tasks (like ceremonial and care work) that are least comparableto traditionalproduction(33. This approachintegrates analytically studies of social networkswith studies of households. One beginning was made by Ingrid Rudie in a paper from 1969-1970 (122) and has been followed up by her and others (105.peer group. and/or social network processes. neighborhood. 123). It exemplifies the fact that the maintenance of class cultures is not necessarily contradictoryto a relatively advanced national economy. but social and cultural is possible to examine carefully what clusters of personnelactually do different household tasks. 66. At the Work have examinedcarefullythe ResearchInstitutein Oslo. This old neighborhood in a modem city exhibits many local traditions and extensive contacts among neighborswho are often also relatives. and neighborhood(72). not all the nearestand dearestto people in this neighborhoodlive nearby. Using this snow-ball method. The wife's main dilemmaconsists in being fully independentand competentwhile at the same time constantly keeping a place ready for the family father (19. 128). The ethnography is focused on the conversations of young women around the kitchen table (66). However. however. I was able to portraya way of life extending beyond one particular neighborhood. One example is the activity of young girls who regularlytake care of an unrelated neighborhood child for a fee. 123). is not economic class.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 77 a wide sense of that term). This has led to discussions of how the division of tasks is negotiated between husbandand wife in marriageand how certaintasks are given special symbolic value as either masculine or feminine (15. 100. In the study on which the book Kitchen-TableSociety is based. a groupof researchers relationshipbetween the organizationof household tasks. insofar as household membersmobilize network relations to perform specific household tasks. on the one hand. Instead of taking the ideological for boundarybetween the privatefamily and its social surroundings granted. All the studies I have mentioned so far rely on the analysis of household. I therefore went to some satellite towns in Bergen and followed the network relations of young working-class women to friends and friends of friends. This activity system integrates the particularsubstantialunits of home (especially the homes of the child and the caretakers). Other studies have focused on the relations between paid work and household activities. In both cases the husband'speriods at home are as challenging to the other family membersas the periods when he is at sea. Changingthe division of tasks is thereforemuch more than a purely practicaland organiza- . What I have been interestedin. Many good analyses of household activities have been done in Norway and Sweden. 123).

the art world (49). The field is today characterizedby a promising variety of field sites and . culturaland physical planning (60). however. 64. spouses have also come to value falling in love and to have high expectations of sexual gratification. sports (46. 63. and the folklore of the media and mass entertainment (96). formerlyappliedbetween individuals belonging to different families. political rhetorics (26). 92. old people's homes (14).In addition.mystery. anthropologistsand Europeanethnologists have over the years also entered a wide variety of other modem contexts to do ethnographicfield work. The reason is probably not that kinship is unimportantbut that it is taken for granted. nursery schools (12. and this provides one illustrationof the much-noteddifficulty local anthropologistshave in transcendingtheir own pragmatic preconceptions. punk groups (98. labororganizations(62). More studies have focused on householdtasks thanon sexuality (117. andthereforesome cultivationof otherness (68. and are related to expressions of love and care as parts of a system of gift exchange between spouses. ethnic confrontations (39. communities.78 GULLESTAD tional endeavor. museums (45).The study of kinship is of course also culturallyimportantinsofar as symbols and metaphorsin many fields of discourse ultimately derive from kinship. 44. and ways of life is one main tendency in modem Scandinaviananthropology. is now also applied between spouses within families. 121) and offices (32). homeless people (50). 86. On the basis of these changes it is possible to trace a logical contradictionbetween romantic love and the desired equality as sameness in the division of tasks. p. Practicaltasks have importantconsequences for feelings of identity and self-respect. 126). A focused study of family and kinship would help to bring the emic distinctions back into the analytic deconstructionof household processes and household forms.There are strong expectations that romanticlove last over time and that it be monogamous. 99). tourism (141). and thereby to provide a more complex culturalunderstanding. a new form of legitimacy is now used. hospitals (48. 104). The idea of equality as sameness. 120). It is. 42-44). because romanticlove implies imagination. 49). 129). The study of identity managementwithin households. Apartfrom an importantbook by Asa Boholm (18). possible to bring sexuality and householdtasks into relationby suggesting an implicit contradiction or field of tension between the new expectations of romantic sexuality and equality of household tasks. (In the anthropologyof Iceland more work has been done on kinship). Of particularinterest is a number of studies of children's social and cultural development (1013. However. 119). They turn in ever larger numbersto the study of social and cultural processes of factories (41. 124. This is a condition that should be correctedin the nearfuture. When spouses negotiate their division of tasks. the study of kinship is so far almost nonexistent in the anthropologyof contemporaryScandinavian society.

and each has its own outlook on life. 85) develops a theory of social structuresthat can clarify certain aspects of the conflicts between local communities and central authorities. family life takes on a meaning different from that of the selfemployed. SOCIETY SEEN AS A SET OF INTERRELATEDLIFE MODES The first perspective that can be used to draw together isolated studies into a more comprehensive patterncomes from Denmark. Thomas H0jrup (84. Among -social scientists in Copenhagen.The workerdoes not own the means of production.particularly materialism. and mutual misinterpretation. Since the family is not a unit of production. but especially the first one has a different point of departure. where the whole family is involved in production. The life-mode of the ordinarywage-workeris dependenton the capitalist mode of production. is not analyzed. While the wage-workers sell time. who make demandson the business by makingcommon cause with colleagues. there has for the last 10-15 years been a strong interest in developing a consistent and coherent mode of analysis based on historical traditionsin Copenhagen. The career oriented life-mode is also directly dependenton the capitalist mode of production but is located in relation to it differently from the life-mode of the ordinarywage-worker.and the time spent working has no intrinsicvalue for him or her. leisure. and building on the work of continental theoreticians such as Louis Althusser. The studies reviewed so far should be seen as analytical and ethnographicbuildingblocks for the threerecentattemptsto createa more of comprehensive understanding social and culturalwholes that I discuss in to the following sections.Exemplifying structuralist the school of the linguist Louis Hjelmslev. the ordinarywage-worker. and the career oriented life-modes. the . The main differences among the life-modes is expressedin the meaningsof work. A fourth type. Each totalizingperspectiveincorporates a greateror lesser extent these building blocks. and family. Their interrelationship one of opposition. with work and leisure considered as a conceptual unity. The self-employed life mode is related to simple commodity production. the career oriented sell human capital. The three main types are the selfemployed. But unlike the wage-workers.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 79 is gearedto constantproductionon the partof and on behalf of the family. H0jrup sees society as composed of a numberof contrasting"life-modes"that cannot be defined independently of each other. as an independentunit. the bourgeois life-mode. competition. The purpose of work is the consumption of leisure time. These life-modes are fundamentallydifferent in terms of their place in the economic and political is structure.

This argumentis close to the argumentationin works by people such as Brox and Daun. In the self-employed life-mode. freedom and independenceare important values. reviewed in the previous section. in mixed forms. Lone Rahbek Christensen(30) follows up by discussing the variations brought by women's new adaptations to work outside the family. The fact that women now have more choice augments the possible internalcombinationsin a family. Therefore this life-mode. This H0jrupcalls "neoculturation. Work and leisure are joined. not least in combinationwith wage-work. I therefore think that . containingpossibilities for self-defense in conflicts with the "purer" wage-earners. The pure forms of the wage-earnerand the career life-modes have proven easier to reconcile with these goals. ordinary wage-workers. and pragmatismare equally importantyet they are often impaired by adverse circumstances. The values of self-sufficiency. one third of the Danish population carry on this life-mode. Women may be housewives. and also in wholesale and retail trade.H0jrup'sempiricalillustrationscome from the Skive and Limfjord regions of northernJutland. H0jrupargues. Fishermenwho have to earn a wage in order to survive are typical of a mixed form. Christensen'smore specific analysis is. Recent technological developments have contributedto its vigorous survival in transformed forms. in fishing. Simple commodityproductionplays an important role in the agricultural sector. or self-employed (often together with their husbandson a family farm or in a family firm). He estimatesthat anotherthirdof the populationare purewage-earners. so far too schematic to be convincing. legal. but in a way different from that in the self-employed life-mode. the life-mode is threatened can be transformed. frugality. in handicrafts. When the special circumstancesare changed.The ideological contentof the life-mode and may in such cases dictate people's efforts to preserve various material and organizationalcircumstancesor to find new niches that allow the life-mode to The process of continue in a new form. H0jrup sees empirically existing ways of life as variations on this basic scheme. To H0jrup and Christensen life-modes are conditioned by specific economic.and make demandson themselves to surpasscolleagues. however. has been a particular obstacle to the ideology of equality and levelling of centralistwelfare state policies.while the career oriented comprise about one sixth of the the service sector. as well as in traditionalforms. According to H0jrup's estimates." neoculturation may result in the life-mode's being recreatedor combinedwith others in new mixed forms. career oriented. among other things.80 GULLESTAD careerorientedstrive to be irreplaceable. In this life-mode it is not consideredmeaningfulto divide human activity into work and leisure. in trucking. and political circumstancesas well as by corresponding ideological conceptions. thatthe self-employed life-mode is not at all a dying species in Denmark.

H0jrupsees no ideological similarities among the life-modes.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 81 H0jrup's analysis of the far-reaching revitalization of the self-employed life-mode could to some extent be extended to Norway and Sweden. However. organizational. Contraryto the stated aim. in addition to the explicit logical approach. 188)."a concrete and measurableentity. not really as createdand maintainedby social actors. p. it may give planners the illusion of knowing the people. they do not create them. 5). A life-mode may be defined more comprehensively as including economic. Ch. it yields some fresh insights. 30). be useful to distinguish analytically between on the one hand life-mode or way of life and. then life-modes display patternsnot because they have an essential logical existence outside people's lives but because men and women with characteristicdispositions continuously shape and reshapethese patterns. life-style. For planners and politicians it will be only too convenient to overlook the subtletiesof the subdivisions and mixed forms and to graspthe main division of society into a set of life-modes. he himself empirical presents and discusses them as a set of ideal types. The life-mode perspectiveis a new way of choppingup society thatextends a traditional economic-class analysis. People "carry"life-modes. 1979). To him and Christensenthe values and outlooks of each life-mode are never subvariants of a common culturebut are solely rooted in that life-mode itself. p. Even if H0jrupwarns againstreifying the concepts (84. Ideological differences are seen as given (by the modes of production). If people are seen as social actors. p. H0jrup also slips into the analysis insights derived from social anthropologicalperspectives oriented toward social practice. Since the concept of the life-mode unifies socially very different economic classes in society (84. for instance. . Contradictory materialdoes not falsify the threemaintypes but leads to furtherdivisions into subtypes and mixed forms. The fact that such perspectivesare not built into the mode of analysis is its weakest point. while a life-style may be defined as the expressive or communicativeaspects of a way of life (75. on the other hand. instead of giving them tools with which to analyze the changing subtleties and variationsof ways of life. What is needed is to incorporateinto the method not only social actorsand social practice but also a more sophisticatedtheory of culture. and life-modes are seen as competing with each other (85. By reifying life-modes into types. the result being that the life-mode is treatedas a "thing. even if the agriculturalsector is smaller there. It will. the study thereforeleads to an atomisticinterest in life-modes ratherthan in patternsof culturaland social interrelationships.and culturalaspects of a way of life. Denmarkis seen as a collection of parts-in this case not communities or classes but life-modes.

Swedish European ethnology is much more prolific. however. . they argue explicitly for an emphasis on agency ratherthan structure. and their associates are not only excellent scholars but have also been given the necessary institutional backing to develop cumulative research projects of some scale. Startingin the present. Their aim is to focus on relations between culturallydistinctgroups and the dialectic processes wherebydifferentclasses and strata develop their identities and cultures. Unlike H0jrup. the whole project may be seen as an ongoing dialog between past and present.82 GULLESTAD CLASS FORMATIONAND CULTURE BUILDING Comparedto the heavy hand of the Danish life-mode analysis developed by Thomas H0jrup and his associates. but the transformationsof the Swedish bourgeoisie into what these scholars see as the Swedish middle class. The Lund group brings a historical perspective to the study of contemporary Scandinaviansociety. eclectic. looks at the new polarization of work and leisure between public and private life. The theoreticalfoundationof the projectis discussed in a paper by OrvarLofgren (111) and in a small book in Swedish by Billy Ehn and Orvar Lofgren (47). The project's first book. and (not least) the civilization studies of NorbertElias. Orvar Lofgren. the French Annales school in history. they move first a century (57) and then 50 years (56) back in time.In Lund. Ten researchers are involved in a project that so far has resultedin several books and articles (1. Like Thomas H0jrupthey want to study society and cultureby approaching the totality rather than the local variations. as well as changing perceptions of sexuality and bodily functions.he comparesgenderconstructsand patterns of child socialization.Marxism. Jonas Frykmandescribes and analyzes notions of dirt. and light-hearted(thoughno less ambitious). 93. together with the new ideology of home and family life. Orvar Lofgrencontraststhe very differentattitudestowardtime and timekeeping. 53-58. pollution. Unlike most other Scandinavianprojects the empirical focus is neither inhabitantsof marginal regions nor working-class people. To analyze the culturalroots of the present.With the Scandinavian elaborations of British social anthropology I outlined above they have combined influences from Americanculturalanthropology. Together Lofgren and Frykmanseek to demonstrateconcretely the way the bourgeoisie constructedits culturaldominion throughthe rituals and routines of everyday life. as well as the uses and perceptionsof nature. and orderliness (discussing the emergence of a new ideology of health and cleanliness). Jonas Frykman. Culture Builders (57). 107-112). Bourgeois culture is contrasted to peasant culture and working-class culture. is an exploration of the formativeperiod of Swedish bourgeois culturefrom 1880 to 1910.

After all. I returnto this point in the next section. ideas. they do not really discuss to what extent the differences are system-relatedcultural differences. There is a growing interest in cultural processes in general and in particularfor what at first glance appearto be nationalcultures."They addresshow these culturesare interrelated historical in terms. in the Gramsciansense. On the one hand they tend to see bourgeois culture as hegemonic by definition. p. throughthe analysis of class strugglesthey seem to apply a more critical notion of hegemony.subculture. OVERARCHINGCULTURAL CATEGORIES This question may be more directly addressedthrough a recent intellectual trend in which Frykman and Lofgren also participate. As partof the projectone of the authors. 82). and typically Danish (51. Such a discussion is necessary in orderto make a more precise analysis of the nature of specific cultural processes-i. 79. Many researchersare interestedin what they think is typically Swedish (78. For my part. in culturalterms. The notions of life-modes or class-cultures logically presuppose more inclusive culturalschemes. their main thesis is that bourgeois conceptions and ideologies become reified as "natural" common sense.Lissie Astr0m. Each class has its "culture. the meanings of those terms are not so far from those of terms like part-culture. but these are missing not only in H0jrup's structurallife-mode analysis but also in Frykmanand Lofgren's perceptive analysis of cultural processes. While they do continuallycontrastthe classes on all matters they consider. 137) patterns of behavior.e. use. I see good reasons to question whetherthe contributions of other classes to "Swedishness" have not been more substantial. and . a copying of middle-class standards(111. the period of the making of the Swedish welfare state. 89). when Frykmanand Lofgren speak about bourgeois culture and working-class culture. thus the outcomes of the culture-building processes are seen as given. Even if they take great care not to view working-class respectability in terms of embourgeoisement. 127. It deals with the remakingof the middle-classand working-classculturesduring the interwaryears. and transmita culturalheritage in this century (1). Other social groups participatedin this building of cultureonly insofar as bourgeois culturewas developed in dependence upon and opposition to them. but they do not address the question of what it is that ties them together. 115. or way of life. has done a separatestudy of how women receive. On the other hand. typically Norwegian (95). life-mode. the extent to which specific class differences are either superficial variationsor form part of more fundamental changes of mentality.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 83 A sequel to Culture Builders was published in Swedish in 1985 (56).

The trend has resulted in both popular books and more scholarly presentations. and values on an everyday level. Typical phenomena within a nation are not necessarily typical only for that nation. National symbols are designed to be nationaland discontinuous-even if the "language"for creating them is internationalwhile what is sharedon an everyday level may also be sharedby inhabitants of neighboring nations and may thus be continuous across nations.He emphasizes that Swedes are quiet. Latin America. where about 10% of the population are now immigrants or descendantsof immigrants. I suggest that a distinction should be made between (a) cultural processes within a nation and (b) national cultural processes. while what is shared on an everyday level may take the form of implicit culturalknowledge. When I studied various urbanNorwegian working-class subculturalways .Since the beginningof the 1970s many people from Asia. the indigenous Scandinaviansfeel both the need and the possibility of cultural self-reflection. and meanings of everydaylife and explicit nationalsymbols and ideologies. He is looking for the processes whereby culturalelements are turnedinto national symbols. 40). people generally use as cultural resourcesmodes of thinkingand modes of living in everydaylife. Other central characteristics according to Daun are seriousness (allvar). use few words. and make many pauses in conversations. ideas. and southernEurope have immigratedto Scandinavia. Nationalsymbols tend to be explicit cultural constructs. Confrontedwith markedotherness at home. categories. OrvarLofgren sets out to provide a foundationfor the study of what he calls the nationalizationof culture.84 GULLESTAD values. It is useful to distinguish between implicit symbols. When creatingand using national symbols and stereotypes. Quietness (tystlatenhet) is a central value. To a certain extent creating national symbols and stereotypes implies transformingthe continuities of everyday life into the contrasts and symbolic inversions of stereotypesand explicit symbols. Since most other researchers are in fact not interested in the nationalizationof culturebut in typical patternsof behavior. Otherresearchers rely on reflection and imaginative speculation (102).particularly to Sweden. Daun's method for generalizing about Swedish culture consists mainly in providing a list of culturetraitsby summarizingforeigners' observationsand in comparingnationsby using statisticalsurvey data (38. Personally. avoidanceof conflict. Both interethnicencountersand ethnic stereotypes may then be among the strategic sources of data. and rationality(foirnufts-orientering) (36-40). Ake Daun builds on journalisticreportsand interviews with foreign workers in studying concrete ways of behaving and psychological personality characteristics. In a recent paper (113). I find these methods less satisfying than working through detailed contextualized ethnographyto make explicit the frameworksof implicit meanings (the way Daun himself workedin the book Forortsliv).

on the other hand. self-sufficiency. In this way individualism and conformity are broughttogether. and activity systems outlined in the section aboutbuildingblocks. neighbors. encounters. and relatives. It is possible to highlight to what extent the differences of ways of life and life-styles are system-relateddifferences. independence.The approachis based on the analysis of roles. . in terms of being the product of an overarchingculture and social orderthat create and legitimate (directly or indirectly) these differences. identities. 6. The result of this quest may be regardedas a thirdkind of comprehensiveapproach. as well as on influencesfrom the traditionin Americanculturalanthropology. Two people define each other as alike by being accessible to each other. stability. home-centeredness. legitimate. is a sign of perceived dissimilarity. I was aftersome time led to formulatequestionsaboutthe natureof the cultural frames organizing subculturaldifferences. 73-75). and induce social action without themselves needing justification.desire for peace and quiet. It is centralto the approachthat a cultureshould not be described by a list of traits but by tracing explicit and implicit relations between categories as well as between categories and social action.I have formulated interpretative hypotheses about what I see as some central themes in Norwegian (and perhaps Scandinavian or northern European) culture: equality defined as sameness. The analysis is done by identifying and spelling out the meaning of cultural categories (like "peace and quiet") that are used to justify. Norwegian men and women like to (2. "fit in with" friends. The Norwegian egalitariantraditioninvolves not necessarily actual samedifference during social encounters ness but ways of under-communicating 67. This operationalizationenables one to avoid assumptionsabout total sharing:Many people may use the categories in roughly the same ways without necessarily investing them with exactly the same concrete meanings in social action (73. This approach complements the other two totalizing perspectives on an important point: Through the analysis of central cultural categories. While Norway (like the other Scandinavian countries) is undergoing extensive social and cultural changes. In their personallives. and self-control (66-69. 75). The idea of equality as sameness is not incompatible with a very pronounced individualism: Norwegian men and women are individualistsby being independentand self-sufficient. 75). the ideas of equality defined as sameness and individualismdefined as independence seem to be reinforced (67. 17. it is possible to draw togetherthe analysis of differentlife-modes or class cultures in culturalterms. 75). love of nature. The hypotheses are made in terms of the relevantsets of oppositions in which these categories occur. Inaccessibility. Social boundariesbetween classes and groups do not disappearbut become subtlerand more hidden throughgraded distancing and avoidance (69. 75).CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 85 of life.

It is the main work to presentcontextualizedand task and the main thrustof anthropological embedded analyses of social organizationand culturalmeanings. Most of these are middle-class virtues. now middle-class life-style has become the mainstreamSwedish culture in public discourse as well as in private life. In Ska vi leka tiger? [Let's Play Tiger!] (43) he generalizes about Swedish culture from fieldwork in a nurseryschool. He sees striving for order (orden) as well as a fundamentaldoubt and insecurity (tveksamhet)as two central characteristics of what goes on in child pedagogies as well as in Swedish society at large. many elaboratethe theme of the personaland social struggle culturalrepresentations involved in desperateswings between reserve and release. In addition to and based upon this primarytask. 43-45).86 GULLESTAD The way to do such an analysis is. orderliness. obsessed with self-discipline. Anthropological work in Norway has demonstrated how much Norwegian culture is influenced by the rural life-modes of its . The study of culturalcategories also includes developing an understanding of the historical backgroundof currentthemes. One of the startingpoints of the projectin Lundwas the popular stereotypes of Swedishness. These stereotypesportraythe typical Swede as a nature-loving and conflict-avoiding person. Anthropologists may choose either to be "scientific"by bolsteringtheir imaginationswith statistics or to cultivate and discipline their analytical concepts and intuitive interpretations. we should not be afraidto make a leap into bold hypotheses formulatedas well-informedand well-qualified guesses about culturalschemes in a largerregion. there are reasons to question their contention.I think we should opt for the latter choice. through painstakingattentionto ethnographicdetail. Here the Europeanethnologists in Lund have alertedus to the fact that some classes or groups may be more typical thanothers. punctuality. according to Frykman and Lofgren. Several recent studies exemplify this method. at least in its strongest formulation. and the rational life. common to outside observers and natives alike. in Scandinaviaas elsewhere. In an innovative and importantstudy of a Swedish church. According to his analysis. Billy Ehn has published a numberof well-writtenand insightfulbooks based on fieldworkin a variedset of institutions in contemporarySwedish society (41. This procedureallows researchers in the long run to commute back and forth between. It is their view that the formerly bourgeois. between isolation and social contact. In my view. the American anthropologistPeter Stromberg (132) concludes by comparing the churchmembers' symbols and experiences of grace with IngmarBergman's movies. synthesis on the one hand and ethnographicdetail and embeddednesson the other. He finds similar culturalpatternsand sees a tension between individual and community as central to Swedish culture. even if this region is both close to home and contains complex structuresand systems.

In fact. The meaningsof the Norwegian notions of equality as sameness.CONTEMPORARYSCANDINAVIAN SOCIETY 87 recent past. Many ideas and values regarded as typically of Scandinavianmay perhapsbe analyzed as extensions and transformations the self-employed life-mode. for of pietist instance. the free church. sports. the southern part of Sweden. since churchreligion to many people has lost its value as legitimationand integrationof everyday activities. Most inside observers are completely silent on this point. According to Frykmanit is the insecurityof the class-travellerthat is expressed in what is often considered typically Swedish. in a recent paper Jonas Frykman(55) suggests that it may be the class-traveller who embodies most of what is regarded as typically Swedish today. be relatedto the asceticism and the egalitarianism Lutheran lay-organized churches (71). Thomas H0jrup's analysis of the revitalizationand ideological importanceof the self-employed life-mode in Denmarkmay also be used to back up such an argument. and the temperancelodge preached global messages that instilled new value scales in their adherents. have written brief papers on religious life (4). the study of religion should be much more importantin the future than it is today. In the analysis of the roots of "national"cultures and implicit cultural frameworkswithin and across nations. On the other hand. Swedes exhibit the highest social mobility of any nationality in Europe. On the one hand. but only Peter Stromberghas done a study with this as a focus (132). The reason for this could be the fact thatpeople in the Norwegian upperclass have been less wealthy and more divided among themselves than the upper classes in Denmark. continuity. Peter Stromberg (131) points to certain similarities among the various popular movements in Sweden in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. self-control. social planning) and religion as a fertile field for anthropologicalresearchin this region. the one left behind and the one entered into. and other Europeancountries. thus revealing a local intellectualfolk ideology in which religion is not regardedas important. internationalrelations. The interconnectionsmay work both ways. and integrationby working on the home as a physical framethatembodies a whole set of central culturalvalues (75). The local labor party. church religion may be transformed and revitalizedinto secularideas and values. The way of life of each class-travellerwill be influencedby at least two life-modes. they have to find their "ultimatemeanings"elsewhere. and peace and quiet may. According to one hypothesis Scandinavianscreate unity.I see the examinationof connections between secular domains of life (like family. Educatedpeople thus constituteby far the most heterogeneousstratum in society. Some outside observers. . but as a general cultural force. However. such as Barnes. I see religion not only as a subfield of society where 10% of the populationare active. both in the past and today.

Norwegian. It is also high time anthropologists starteddiscussing in what ways. to what extent the traits described as "typically Swedish. In my view it is both desirable and feasible to integrate the three . and thus preparedto break away. where such questions have been discussed for a long time. The three totalizing attemptsI have dealt with are dramaticallydifferent in terms both of the academic traditionsinvolved and of the empiricalpoints of and anchorage. There are.the Nordic countries. as different versions of something similar. This step is necessary if studies in this region are to develop into full-fledged contributions to comparative anthropology. The question remains.but thereare also strikingcomplementarities largeoverlapping areas. or some wider unit. to what and for what kinds of researchquestions the nation state is or is not a extent. or as different cultural constellations with some family resemblance. This fact is also reflected in the emerging use within Scandinavia of "everyday life" as a political symbol that has utopian overtones and that replaces more worn-out symbols like "community"and "neighborhood" (75." or "typically Danish" are exclusively Swedish.88 GULLESTAD Jonas Frykman(55) notes in passing that this may be one backgroundfactor for the extensive social mobility in Sweden: The free church made the members homeless in their communities but at home with God and the congregation. This problem has to be confronted in the future anthropologyof the region. There is a need to discuss explicitly the possibility of a wider culture area and how it would have to be definedScandinavia. Ch. however." "typically Norwegian. CONCLUSION Taken together. 10). or Danish. anthropological studies tend both to reflect and to reflect upon some of the central ideas underpinningand informing the Nordic welfare states. Another theme running through most of the literature is how to deal analyticallywith social and culturaldifferences. for instance. Equality as sameness and peace and quiet may then turn out to be comparableto honor and hospitalityin the Mediterranean world. relevant frame of analysis in this region. the studies reviewed here demonstratethat in a double sense the small facts of everyday life constitute a fruitful entry point into an understandingof larger social and cultural processes. The problem is how to treat such similarities-as the same. obvious similarities among the egalitariannotions in the three countries and between the value placed on silence in Sweden and the culturalcategory "peace and quiet" in Norway. These themes reveal that the relationship between anthropology and state is extremely complex: Even while criticizing bureaucratic centralization and standardization.

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