Studentsov Victor
Scandinavian Egalitarian Individualism and the Welfare State
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ISSN 0201-7083

DOI 10.31857/S0201708322010120

This essay discusses the nature and roots of Scandinavian egalitarianism and its relation to the welfare state. Nordics are reckoned to be among the most individualistic nations of the world which seemingly strongly contradicts with their passion for equality as embodied in the law of Jante, lagom, hygge and the like everyday patterns of equalization behavior. However, the author finds this presumed paradox to be a false one as Nordics practice what H. Triandis called horizontal individualism that values equality. Nordic researchers especially M. Gullestad and A. Daun were first to discern this feature of Scandinavians’ mentality naming them “egalitarian individualists”. High general trust, aspiration for equity and equality seem to be at least partly the legacy of the Lutheran Church as well as agrarian peasant heritage that continues to survive in modern predominantly urban Scandinavia. Whatever the historical origins of this fusion of individualism and equality Social-democratic governments have capitalized on it by adopting policies that deliberately promoted equality in many spheres of social life. “Statist individualism”, a concept firstly formulated by L. Trägårdh (presumably having a kind of predecessor in G. Mydahl) defining an implicit contract between the state and an individual seems to be an adequate description of the current state of Scandinavian mentality.


Keywords: Scandinavia | welfare state | culture | mentality | individualism | equality | egalitarian individualism | statist individualism |

Russian Science Citation Index



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