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Automobility and the folkhem: Collectivism, individualism and the car in 20th century Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5123-1357
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The automobile is generally associated with individualism, as the car allows its driver to enjoy the “freedom of the open road.” The Swedish folkhem, on the other had, is understood as a collective social project emphasizing solidarity and group agency. Interestingly, the folkhem and the automobile system developed at around the same time in Sweden, such that today the individualistic car is the dominant form of transportation in what is thought to be a very collectivistic Sweden. This paper explores this apparent paradox between individualism and collectivism in the creation of modern Sweden. The historical development of both the folkhem and the automobile system is reviewed, and it can be concluded that rather than conceiving of the car/folkhem relationship as a tension between the individualistic car and the collectivistic folkhem, we can say that the tension between individualism and collectivism actually occurs within the folkhem itself. Theories of automobility are also discussed with the goal of developing a framework for the further study of the contribution of the automobile system to the building of the folkhem.

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Human Geography
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-287524OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-287524DiVA: diva2:922880
5th Nordic Geographers Meeting
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P11-0754-1
Available from: 2016-04-25 Created: 2016-04-25 Last updated: 2016-04-25

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Jansson, David
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