The Relational Nordic Welfare State
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The Relational Nordic Welfare State

Between Utopia and Ideology

Edited by Sakari Hänninen, Kirsi-Marja Lehtelä and Paula Saikkonen

The success of the Nordic welfare state is well known, but the key drivers of its remarkable expansion are not. This book explores the relationships between citizens that constitute the normative groundwork of Nordic societies, arguing that the quality of relations steers welfare development.
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Chapter 3: The profits and pitfalls of prosociality: cultural-evolutionary perspectives on Scandinavia

Nina Witoszek


Nina Witoszek asks whether there is a Nordic humanism. In her view, sustainable modernity is as much a creation of political and economic institutions and social movements as it is a summa summarum of cultural texts, norms, rituals, philosophical traditions. The main interest lies in the question: to what extent can the Scandinavian countries’ successes as ’well-being societies’ be attributed to the potency of a unique Nordic humanism? How has it evolved? Who have been its main drivers and how has it been replicated? In what way has it interacted with the political and economic realms? And finally, what are the challenges to Nordic humanism today? This takes a semiotic-evolutionary perspective of the shared Nordic founding tradition, highlighting in particular the role of ‘Ostromian’ small groups and individuals and how they solidify humanism in the Nordic education system and self-image.

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