Why Norwegians Don’t Have Their Pigs in the Forest: Enlightening the Nordic Art of ‘Co-operation’

Carsta Simon


Many situations in human life present choices between (a) alternatives beneficial to an individual and (b) alternatives that are less beneficial to the individual that would nevertheless be beneficial if chosen by many individuals. Choices of the latter alternative are generally considered cooperative. Taking the supposition that a lack of cooperation between and amongst societies lies behind many crises of the 21st century as its point of origin, the paper takes a two-step approach to shed light on the Nordic cultural-evolutionary puzzle of managing to maintain a dynamic equilibrium between competition and cooperation. First, the paper suggests regarding cooperation as a valuable temporally extended pattern of behavior that may be learned and maintained over an individual’s lifetime. Second, the paper examines how Norwegian and Swedish culture fosters a commitment to extended patterns of cooperative behavior. By means of interpreting successful Scandinavian cultural characteristics in the light of selection of behavior both during phylogeny and during ontogeny, the paper derives hypotheses about functional relations between behavioral and environmental events, which make for the success of the Nordic nations and which might inspire policy development in other countries.  


cooperation, temporally extended behavioral patterns, Nordic Model, Scandinavian culture, levels of selection

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v26i0.7317

Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

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