Restoring the Welfare State

Thordis Arrhenius

Project Period: 2014-2015
Type: Senior research project
Program Area(s): Critical Historiography, Material Conditions


In the rapid urbanisation and economic development of Scandinavia from the 1950 onwards new towns were planned, infrastructure laid out and historical towns reconfigured. A pressing issue today is how this extensive heritage from the Scandinavian welfare states are considered and valued. How are these buildings, so closely connected to the political project of post-war social democracy, restored and re-assessed in the deregulated market economy of today? How do we understand processes of canonization, heritage and ideology in relation to a recent past that already at its time of realization was devalued aesthetically, architecturally and socially? How in terms of this is the conceptual pair ‘heritage’ and ‘modern’ understood in this specific context of Scandinavia? The methodological approach will be to study the material-culture of the welfare state period from the detail of the concrete slab to the overarching political and bureaucratic system that could realise such a developed standardised
building system.

Researcher(s) Bio and Publications