The Swedish Theory of Love
Individualism and Social Trust in Modern Sweden
- PUBLISHED: September 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Scandinavian Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 394 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 17 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295750552
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In 2020 Sweden's response to COVID-19 drew renewed attention to the Nordic nation in a way that put the finger on a seeming paradox. Long celebrated for its commitment to social solidarity, Sweden suddenly emerged as the last country in the West to resist lockdown while defending individual rights and responsibilities. To explain these contradictions, Henrik Berggren and Lars Trägårdh argue that the long-standing view of Sweden's welfare state as the result of socialist collectivism is flawed. While social values have been and remain strong, they have co-existed with a radical form of individualism. The English edition of the Swedish bestseller Är svensken människa?, The Swedish Theory of Love examines a political culture that stresses individual autonomy on the one hand and trust in the state on the other. Delving into Swedish philosophy, cultural studies, sociology, literary criticism, and political science, the book moves beyond the perspective of rational social engineering to uncover the moral logic behind Sweden's welfare state: the notion that human relationships based on dependency and subordination lead to inauthenticity and that equality and autonomy are preconditions for genuine love and affection.
Authors & Contributors
Henrik Berggren is a Swedish journalist and historian. Lars Trägårdh is a Swedish historian and public intellectual.
"With a remarkably wide range of sources and richness of argumentation, The Swedish Theory of Love explains the success of "the Swedish model" and its apparent paradox: that Swedes value individualism extremely highly but also exhibit a high degree of dependency on the state."- Lynn Wilkinson, author of Laughter and Civility: The Theater of Emma Gad
"The long-awaited English translation of a classic Swedish text, The Swedish Theory of Love provides a nuanced and complex view of a topic often flattened and distorted."- Mark Sandberg, author of Ibsen's Houses: Architectural Metaphor and the Modern Uncanny