Culture Unbound: Americanization and Everyday Life in Sweden

University dissertation from Nordic Academic Press (Historiska Media), Box 935, 220 09 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This book investigates the significance processes of Americanization have had in shaping and influencing the form and content of everyday life in Sweden. However, rather than simply viewing Americanization as an irresistible homogenizing force, it is argued that to the extent that Swedish everyday life has been Americanized, it has been Americanized in a very Swedish way. Here the dreams, actions, and consumption desires of individuals with different social backgrounds are seen as important filters through which America and American impulses are perceived and experienced. The study is divided into six chapters, each with its own theme. The first chapter serves as an introduction to the rest of the book, concentrating upon an analytical consideration of the concept of "Americanization" as it has been invoked in popular debates as well as the academic discourse over the past century. The second chapter focuses upon the narrative processes through which America has developed its symbolic power in Sweden in the period spanning from 1750-1900. The third chapter uses the center/periphery metaphor as a means of framing the emigration debate which raged in Sweden in the decades around the turn of the century. The discussion centers around the manner in which images of America can be used as dynamic tropes in the construction of widely varying Swedish identities. Chapter 4 focuses upon the American car and its interpretation as a symbol of modernity. While following the car from the twenties into the present, it is the history of class distinctions, aesthetic values, and social contestations in the Swedish context which are described. Chapter five considers the effects of Americanization upon the anti-war movement and the New Left, while Chapter 6 concentrates upon an even smaller group within the Swedish counter-culture: hippies. In short, processes of Americanization are here framed within the Swedish context, and used to consider the manner in which the face of daily life is formed not only as a result of events unfolding within Sweden's borders, but even in connection with phenomena deriving from beyond them.

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