Origins of the "Regime of Goodness"

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At the beginning of the 21st century Norway has seemingly succeeded to create a Great Good Place on the planet: in the eyes of the outside world it is an epitome of welfare, equality, justice, environmental concern, and enlightened samaritanism. Nina Witoszek's book attempts to explore the cultural sources of the Norwegian success. What are the significant myths, images and codes of conduct that have propelled the Norwegian "regime of goodness"? How have they evolved over time? Who were their codifiers? The author takes issue with the stock interpretation of Norwegian (and indeed Scandinavian) cultural history, according to which the foundations of modern Nordic identity are to be found in the Romantic breakthrough. She argues that, while Norway was indeed perceived as the cradle of European Romanticism, its romantic credentials are at best suspect and were largely invented by the outside world. The vernacular romantic project was hijacked by a prolonged "Pastoral Enlightenment". The Enlightenment pastors forged a master-narrative of Norwegian identity rooted in nature, peace and Christian ethos. This influential story lives on in the evolving versions of modern social democracy and explains some of the paradoxes - and successes - of the "Norwegian model" today.

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