The Swedish Experiment
The COVID-19 Response and its Controversies

ONE: The Uses of National Models


This chapter traces some of the intricate origins of the Swedish and Nordic Models discourse and representations, explain the various dimensions that they came to incorporate, from social democracy and universal welfare to strong egalitarian norms, transparency and accountability. It reflects on some of the more recent changes and uses of this notion in light of policies of social welfare and economic reforms that have taken place over the last three decades. However, the successful ‘packaging’ of these values in international branding strategies goes along with a ‘good Sweden/bad Sweden’ historical duality that is increasingly used in social media. Social scientists have stressed the problematic flexibility of the uses of the Swedish model that became evident in light of the recent debates on a specific Swedish strategy in the COVID-19 crisis.

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