Lost Land of Bliss: Imagined Temporalities of the Nordic Welfare State

Ainur Elmgren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter explores the myth of the Golden Age of Progress in the Nordic countries by looking back at the twentieth century and asking: When did the progressive project of the future become a lost land of bliss in the past? As the hegemonic narrative of the welfare state as a success story conquers the liberal press in Sweden and Finland – exemplified by editorials in Dagens Nyheter and Helsingin Sanomat from the early 1930s to the late 1990s – the critique of the utopian aspects of the project takes on new forms. Its success is proven by the way that its critics accept its defence when it is already imagined to have passed away. The ironic terms for the initially mocked utopia – lyckolandet, lintukoto – now become unquestioned epithets for the lost land of bliss. Liberal anti-utopianism becomes liberal welfare state nostalgia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Nordic Economic, Social and Political Model : Challenges in the 21st Century
EditorsAnu Koivunen, Jari Ojala, Janne Holmén
Number of pages25
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-13475-4, 978-0-367-72440-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-02669-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • history of ideas
  • intellectual history
  • 5201 Political History
  • welfare state

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