Main idea and aims of the project

“Nordic Openness”: Opportunities and Limits of a Consensual Political Culture

Research Project hosted for the Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS)
by the Network for European Studies (NES), University of Helsinki, within the programme framework “Europe’s Cultural Diversity” with financial support of the Network for European Studies and Kone Foundation.

Mission statement

Nordic Openness is a multidisciplinary research project, which was initiated in January 2010 and concluded in December 2012, conducted by Norbert Götz (project director), Ainur Elmgren, Tero Erkkilä, Johannes Kananen, Lotta Lounasmeri, Carl Marklund, and Johanna Rainio-Niemi. The project is a collaborative enterprise of representatives of different scholarly fields and applies a multidisciplinary approach, primarily relying on the disciplines of history and social science history, political science and social policy, as well as regional studies (Nordic studies as well as German and Central European studies). It engages in a dialogue with other disciplines, in particular law and communication studies, and integrates methods and expertise of a variety of scientific approaches. The research activities are firmly anchored in a number of profiled international scholarly networks and research projects dealing with European studies and regional integration, political culture, the public sphere and conceptual history.

Transparency, accessibility and accountability of decisions and decision-makers are frequently regarded as a major asset of Nordic polities. They are seen as topical democratic virtues that could serve as a model for Europe. In political and scholarly discussions, these traits are identified with individual empowerment, low propensity for corruption and high levels of trust in public institutions and fellow citizens. Thus, from a utilitarian point of view, transparency, accessibility and accountability are seen as crucial elements of social capital formation in the Nordic countries.

When discussed as phenomena rooted in political culture, the features mentioned above are commonly referred to as Nordic openness (or alternatively as Danish/Finnish/Norwe­gian/Swedish openness). The project at hand analyses the concept “Nordic openness” and the multi-layered practices related to it in order to enhance understanding of a key peculiarity of Nordic political culture that is relevant to Nordic identity as well as Nordic national identities and attracts attention within the European Union and in the world at large.

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