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The Social Laboratory, the Middle Way, and the Swedish Model: Three Frames for the Image of Sweden
2009 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of History, ISSN 0346-8755, E-ISSN 1502-7716, Vol. 34, no 3, 264-285 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While Sweden was first proposed as a 'social laboratory' due to its unique homogeneity in the 1920s, it only evolved into a positive example for others with its framing as a 'middle way' between totalitarianism and capitalism during the 1930s. While some questioned whether this Swedish balancing act could be exported, others saw the middle way less as precise 'plan' than as a pragmatic and provisional, yet principled, method of trial and error. The framing of the 'Swedish model', by contrast, emerged in the 1960s with reference to the internal organization of Swedish political economy. While the middle way had been characterized by a non-ideological and conciliatory pragmatism between extremes, the Swedish model represented a highly ideological vision of egalitarianism, which abstracted the Swedish experience and made it possible to export elsewhere. As it became more relevant to other societies, the Swedish model was also injected with a Utopian-Dystopian tension which the originally rather Eutopian image of the middle way had largely lacked.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 34, no 3, 264-285 p.
Keyword [en]
social laboratory; middle way; Swedish model; New Deal; pragmatism; Utopianism; models; methods
National Category
Social Sciences History
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-19369DOI: 10.1080/03468750903134715ISI: 000270252700004ScopusID: 2-s2.0-77249116802OAI: diva2:635415
Available from: 2013-07-04 Created: 2013-07-04 Last updated: 2015-05-18Bibliographically approved

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