Coping with Excess

Coping with Excess

How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Stockholm trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess or overflow. This book explores the ways in which institutions, corporations and individuals define and manage situations of ‘too much’ – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or too many tasks.

Chapter 2: What are we to do with our new affluence?'Anticipating, framing and managing the putative plenty of post-war Finland

Mika Pantzar

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


When the first internationally known ‘garden city’ – Tapiola, near Helsinki – was being developed some 50 years ago, warnings about forthcoming prosperity, excessive consumption and urban sprawl came into the picture from the very beginning. In retrospect, deciding what to do with a ‘new affluence’ – overflow management, in other words – was not the most obvious problem in one of the poorest countries in Europe and one, moreover, which was just recovering from the heavy losses of war. The affluence was more utopian dream than any kind of reality. Nevertheless, standards of the ‘good life’ and ‘proper’ consumption in Finland began to be defined by professionals from relatively new fields such as home economics and sociology, together with urban planners and architects. In the course of the Tapiola building project, the discursive frames of the different professions involved converged by means of fairly ambiguous concepts such as ‘biological function’, ‘catching up’, dormitory town’, ‘cross-sectional society’ and ‘neighbourhood unit’. A closer look at the reality behind these terms reveals a seemingly shared view of the necessity, as well as a deterministic theory, of social progress, and the aim of restricting the wrong kind of growth. Today Tapiola, with its 20 000 inhabitants, exemplifies a rare persistence of Ebenezer Howard’s original term ‘garden city’ (Aario, 1986; Ward, 1992).

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