Nordic Nostalgia and Nordic Light: the Swedish model as Utopia 1930–2007
The Scandinavian journal of economics
SE : Almqvist & Wiksell
229 - 245 p.
swedish model, nostalgia, 1990s
In the last decade, Sweden has emerged on the other side of the 1990s crisis with, if not its self-image intact, then at least a reasserted confidence as, once again, the most modern country in the world. Crisis management in the 1990s seemed to have succeeded. The Swedish bumblebee – the unthinkable animal that flies despite its high taxes and large public sector – flew again. The ‘Swedish model’ was back after a decade as the punch bag of neoliberalism. Throughout the European centre left – from the debate on the European social model to Ségolène Royal and Gordon Brown – Sweden has reemerged as ‘Nordic light’, proof that a better world is possible. This reappraisal in the eyes of the world has paradoxical consequences in Sweden, since it seems to overwrite the uncertainty and insecurity of crisis with assertion and confidence, while leaving many questions unanswered. It also leads to new definitions of what Sweden is. The paper suggests that Sweden post-1990s suffers from a particular kind of nostalgia, in which the famous Model emerges as a kind of paradise lost with uncertain links both to past and future. While Sweden yet again becomes the utopia of others, it is a kind of future past to itself.