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Modern nature for a modern nation: an intellectual history of environmental dissonances in the Swedish welfare state
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2019 (English)In: Environment and History, ISSN 0967-3407, E-ISSN 1752-7023Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In the mid-1990s, the concept ‘ecological modernisation’ was established to characterise the perception that environmental protection and economic growth are not mutually exclusive but rather comprise a solid foundation for sustainable development. We argue in this essay that believing that modernisation, economic growth and a healthy environment could go hand-in-hand was nothing new as far as Sweden was concerned. Rather, it is a belief that developed during the ‘folkhem era (1930s–1970s) due to an extensive dialogue about the proper relationship between nature and society in the construction of the welfare state. We highlight the idea of ‘dissonances’ as a salient metaphor describing the disharmonic relation between old and new and modern society and modern nature. According to advocates of modernisation, it was important to overcome dissonances – backwardness, inefficient use of natural resources and negative ‘side effects’ of societal progress such as pollution and environmental damage – between society and nature. Instead, by rational thinking and new technology it would be possible to make society and nature go hand-in-hand and thereby enhance human welfare. However, broadened knowledge and intellectual horizons and critiques of progress have brought new problem complexes and dissonances to light. Like the dream of Sweden the modern Model Nation, the definitive answer to the difficulties of the environmental issue has constantly been deferred.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Isle of Harris: White Horse Press, 2019.
Keywords [en]
Ecological modernisation, welfare state, dissonances, environmental thinking
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-157895DOI: 10.3197/096734019X15463432086883OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-157895DiVA, id: diva2:1302678
Available from: 2019-04-05 Created: 2019-04-05 Last updated: 2019-05-16

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Mårald, ErlandNordlund, Christer

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other style
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  • de-DE
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