Nordic Social Attitudes in a European Perspective

Nordic Social Attitudes in a European Perspective

Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal

Providing highly rigorous and up-to-date data, with a wide coverage of topics, this book will be of great interest to academics and students in sociology, social policy and political science. It will also appeal to anyone interested in the Nordic countries in general.

Chapter 1: The Nordic Model

Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm, Kristen Ringdal and Olli Kangas

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy

Extract

Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm, Olli Kangas and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION The ambition of this book is to describe the Nordic countries in a European context by means of the European Social Surveys of 2002 and 2004. In this chapter we present the context of our analysis, namely the institutional and historical characteristics of the Nordic countries. We also discuss the many challenges that the institutional settings of the Nordic countries are facing. The point of departure for all the chapters in this book is the idea that institutions affect attitudes and behaviour. Institutions may loosely be defined as the ‘formal rules of the game’. Institutions are systems of rules and procedures that are embodied in, for example, social insurance systems, electoral systems, or family law. Institutions affect behaviour in that they modify and set the structure for possible actions. For instance, it is impossible to be on paid parental leave if such an institutional arrangement does not exist. Institutions also promote or discourage certain behaviour in relation to the issue of costs. For example, the existence of daycare facilities reduces the cost for women to work and, thus, enhances female labour participation. It is not only the case that institutions affect behaviour that will, in turn, affect attitudes and perceptions in an indirect way, but they will also affect them more directly. Svallfors (2007) accounts for three ways in which institutions affect attitudes. First, institutions affect the visibility of social...

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