Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal
Chapter 13: Conclusion: Nordic Uniqueness, Reality or Myth?
13. Conclusions: Nordic uniqueness, reality or myth? Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION Geographically, the Nordic countries consist of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) together with Finland and Iceland. From a European perspective the countries are located on the periphery of Europe. During the last century the Nordic countries transformed from predominantly agrarian countries with modest living conditions to industrial and postindustrial nations and achieved notably high standards of living. In the course of history the Nordic countries developed speciﬁc features that separated them from most other European countries in various respects. The most discernible characteristics are the tradition of the strong state based on long periods of social-democratic rule and the relatively strong position of the class of independent farmers. All in all, the countries formed a distinctive model of society that combined a speciﬁc model of the welfare state, politics and labour markets. With no exaggeration, the ﬁve countries analysed here stand out as a separate area of unique Nordic culture. Opinions about the Nordic countries in contemporary political debates have consistently oscillated between two extremes. These countries have served as ideal societies worth striving for, but they have also been seen as a warning example of societal development that should be avoided by all possible means. For those in favour of social equality in general, and especially equality of opportunities for education, health services and social services, such as daycare for children and care for the elderly, the Nordic countries look...
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