CONSENSUS CULTURE

A Danish retail chain called “Normal” offers this Ad on a Swedish storefront. Interesting choice for the target audience.

Conformity, most of the time

dievca runs into dichotomies within the Swedish Culture by pushing individuals to ‘shine’ (or standout) when culturally that act is a social kiss of death. Insisting upon change within a well-developed system?
Slow going….but that’s why they hired her.

The US has long been and remains an invented culture, full of disparate and changing parts. Those parts vary by race, ethnicity, class, and region, to name a few demarcations. Identities in the US are lightly held; there is always the possibility of moving to a different geographical and cultural location and reinventing yourself. Lots of Americans are at any time “on the move” in that way.

Sweden, like many European nations, has an old and deeply-rooted culture that manifests itself in dominant group norms. Reinvention is less possible and, it seems, less desirable to Swedes.

Those norms may have grown from the centralist history of their institutions. Sweden has long had one strong national government, a single state church, one public system of higher education, one set of national employment laws.

You must fit in.
Individuality is not usually prized. This may be one of the strangest traits of Swedes because their contribution to popular culture is so disproportionately huge relative to their small population.

Being a pop music superpower (Sweden is the third-largest producer of pop music after the US and UK) shouldn’t sit easily with a nation that frowns on those who drive flashy cars or exhibit any flamboyance. What about IKEA, H&M, COS, & Other Stories. Pop music, Retail and the arts, in general, are about expressing your creativity. How does this fit in with the country of ‘lagom’ (the Swedish word for ‘just enough’)?

Swedes (like many Americans) think that the way they do things is the best – their university degrees are better, their work practices are better, etc.

Annoyingly, unlike Americans, Swedes’ superiority complex is mostly warranted. After all, the Swedes are ahead of the curve on many issues.

But that doesn’t mean that newcomers to the country cannot offer a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, many Swedes have no desire to consider an outsider’s approach or listen to new solutions to old problems.

The attitude from the local Swedes is very much, “Oh, we’ve always done it this way, and we’re OK – why would we change?”

They just waddle along complacently, happy with their lot, not at all bothered that there is a whole world out there that might just, know how to do some things a little better than they do.

Modified and added to a piece from Paul Connolly – “The Local” August 17, 2015