Democracy, governance & law

This page provides articles on both the well-established, democratic traditions that the Nordic countries are seen as being famous for, but also includes content about the challenges to that social democratic order, such as digitalisation and neoliberalism. Articles also include those that are tagged as being to do with minorities, public policy and education.


The official flag of Åland since the 1950s. Åland is semi-automonous in that it has its own legislature, but it is a part of Finland despite over 90% of the population speaking Swedish. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

2019.04.25 | The Quick Read, Jason Lavery, Minorities, Democracy, Governance

The Åland Islands

The Åland Islands lie at the south-western tip of the Finnish peninsula between Finland and Sweden. This archipelago of 6,500 islands and skerries is demilitarised, an autonomous region and a Swedish-speaking part of Finland.

Offices of the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman in Stockholm. The first Swedish Ombudsman was appointed in 1810. Photo: Riksdagens Ombudsman.

2019.04.25 | The Quick Read, Inken Dose, Governance

Ombudsman

Originating in Sweden in 1809, an ombudsman is generally regarded as an official body of complaint which protects individuals against abuses of power and maladministration. Finland and Denmark were the second and third countries to establish an ombudsman, and the idea later spread to the other Nordic countries and further afield. The idea of a…

The SIPRI Year Book is the main publication of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It is published every year accounting for armaments, military spending and conflicts internationally. Photo: Courtesy of SIPRI.

2019.03.26 | The Quick Read, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Education

Peace studies in the Nordics

A number of peace research institutes emerged in the Nordics from around 1960. They were initially seen as politically radical and interdisciplinary with a focus on the applied rather than the academic side of peace studies. Since them, they have become more part of the establishment, advising governments and producing staff skilled in peace…

Heyerdahl directed archaeological excavations in a variety of places including Easter Island and Azerbaijan. Photo: Kon-Tiki Museum (CC BY 3.0)

2019.03.20 | Biography, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Education

Thor Heyerdahl (1916-2002)

The Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl was internationally renowned for leading expeditions across vast oceans in rudimentary vessels.

An illustration of the Indo-European and Uralic language trees. Art by Minna Sundberg. Courtesy of Tom Wigley. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

2019.03.15 | The Quick Read, Marc Pierce, Education

Linguistics in the Nordics

The scientific study of language form and meaning, including the specialised branch of runology, has been a prominent academic pursuit in the Nordics since the Middle Ages.

Gro Harlem Brundtland in April of 2009. Photo: GAD (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2019.03.13 | Biography, Ann Legreid, Governance

Gro Harlem Brundtland (b. 1939)

Gro Harlem Brundtland is an internationally recognised Norwegian politician and environmentalist known for her advocacy of sustainability, public health and human rights. Among a number of public offices, she served as Prime Minister of Norway for ten years.

Cover from the book The Sun, My Father by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

2019.03.01 | The Quick Read, John Weinstock, Culture, Minorities

Yoiking, a Sami musical expression

Yoik is the native Sami musical expression which is reminiscent of singing. It has layers of meaning as it holds identity markers and was traditionally very significant in how social interaction took place within Sami communities (and still is to a certain extent). It also had more practical purposes, such as calming reindeer.

A drum made by Håvard Larsen. Photo: courtesy of Sami Culture, the University of Texas at Austin.

2019.03.01 | Article, John Weinstock, Culture, Minorities

Sami handicrafts

Duodji, the Sami word for handicrafts/applied art, has a long and illustrious history. Handicraft has been influenced by the need to survive in a harsh arctic environment (production of clothes to keep warm and weapons to hunt with) and the nomadic nature of the Sami (leading to rounded shapes so as not to hurt reindeer), but have also been…

Sundbyberg's folk high school in Sweden. Photo: Wikimedia, CC0.

2019.03.01 | The Quick Read, Kyle Frackman, Education, Democracy

Nordic folk high schools

Folk high schools are institutions which provide general and vocational education for young people and adults. Based on the philosophy of Danish educator, pastor, and religious revivalist N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), the first school was founded in Denmark in 1844, but the concept spread to other Nordic countries in the following decades. There…

The Finnish Act on Freedom of the Press from 1766, which included the Principle of Publicity. Photo: © Tryckfrihetsförordningen1766 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

2019.02.27 | Article, Ainur Elmgren, Governance, Nation building

Open government in the Nordics

Open government is intended to ensure transparency, accountability and openness and involves fundamental issues such as press freedom, public disclosure and freedom of information legislation, all key aspects of the administration of Nordic states. These states were amongst the earliest to introduce lauded measures of open government, such as the…

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