Sweden: Theoretical Perspectives on Culture and Society

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 Sweden contains a diversified culture that I analyzed by reading some journal articles from the internet. I also managed to interview my friend who comes from Sweden, for he came to the United States when he was 20 years old. I met my friend him at a birthday party for one of our fellow classmates. I managed to get a lot of information concerning social customs, ceremonies, education, religion, and the economy of Sweden. After I compiled my research, I noticed that the information that I was given with my Swedish friend aligned with those that I got from the research. As a result, I managed to come up with an essay rich in the in depth analysis of the Swedish culture and it touches on all important segments. I came to learn that both men and women are equal in Sweden, unlike in other countries where people are still fighting over gender equality. They also take their holidays seriously especially during their “midsummer” which is celebrated on the fourth Friday of every June. I also had a small misconception that Swedish give out a rude feeling, but after the interview I got to know how to relate with them more.

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Social customs In Sweden

Sweden is a country which is quite rich in culture. First, the majority of the people who live in Sweden, speak Swedish which is the country’s official language. In relation to their interaction with strangers, Swedish people are welcoming, and they welcome visitors warmly to their country. In Sweden, the most common type of greeting is the handshake, which is in most cases accompanied by direct eye contact and a strong hand grip.

In Sweden, people prefer to live a private life, and it may be hard to make friends in the country. However, in social settings, they are very friendly and converse with people asking about political issues and current affairs. Some people prefer standing close while conversing, while others are against it and less comfortable. Most prefer to listen to a person and try to understand what they say, instead of being too quick while conversing.

The people of Sweden are egalitarian, humble and they do not accept boating behavior within their culture. The residents of Sweden do not take hospitality for granted and when served well, they always give thanks. Failure to do so will lead to the regard of being looked at negatively in Sweden. Working hard and playing hard is not something which is common in Sweden (Barger, K. Ethnocentrism). People work moderately and are involved in minimal enjoyment. Additionally, competition is not common and children are raised in such a way that everyone should be made to feel special equally.

The family’s theoretical perspective would be structural functionalist. They fit and relate to it best, for they make sure to follow both the beliefs and rules to promote a strong society. They realize how many different institutions of the system in their country, work together. This helps myself and the readers understand why their society works so well and smooth, compared to the United States.

Ceremonies, Celebrations, Clothing, and Food

Swedish people enjoy various ceremonies and other important dates. Most of these ceremonies and music festivals are held during the summer. On October 4th, 1999, what is now known as the Cinnamon Bun Day was invented and celebrated. It gives people the opportunity to stuff their faces with all the different kinds of delicious pastries. Additionally, the summer solstice is a celebration where people gather in parks, eat pickled herrings, are involved in making flower wreaths and dance on poles while pretending to be frogs. Santa Lucia which is celebrated on December 13th, have the girls dress like saints and in long white robes, while the boys dress as “star boys.” Other celebrations and important dates they celebrate include Christmas, Valborg, waffle day, Julbock, death cleaning, and Lagom.

In Sweden, both the color black and half raised flag is a symbol of mourning and death. In terms of business, Swedish people love to wear what is called high-quality clothes. While in their workplace, their attires are casual, but when involved in meeting they are to wear formal clothing. The men wear dark suits and the women wear blouses with pencil skirts, which sends professionalism to the people they interact with. All in all, the general attire in Sweden should be models and sober, and they try to avoid provocative and glittery clothing. Most of the people in Sweden are not too fond of alcoholic drinking, so they prefer soft drinks. People in Sweden are cautious when it comes to ordering food in restaurants and always make eye contact with the waiter and say “excuse me sir/madam.”

Workforce diversity and education

Even though Swedish is the official language in Sweden, they use the English language to converse in their workplace. The workforce in Sweden is diverse and the income and wealth, are almost evenly distributed which leads to the naming as one of the top equal countries. In 2015, there was an assessment in relation to the drop in performance and this determined that students had a negative attitude when it came to education. They concluded that due to the increase in living standards, discipline, education and dedication among students had fallen drastically. In Sweden, men are more educated as compared to the women, and this has been a major problem maintaining gender equality. Most jobs run for eight hours a day. So, if you do work more the law says the company must pay you for the extra hours worked. Minimum vacation time is four weeks and one could get up to six. This rule cuts across all employees even for those who work in the fast food industry.

Religion and folk beliefs

The Lutheran Church of Sweden is among one of the top most churches in the entire world and has more than six million members. This accounts for 64% of the population (Lumen). However, around twenty-eight percent of the population are atheists which is accepted, but they do not belong to any religious belief. The Catholic Church in Sweden has three- point eight percent of the total population, all while the Islam religion has one-point four percent.

People can be involved in religious activities during any time of the day and the many religious activities are taken seriously. Additionally, religion does not encourage stray behaviors such as smoking and drinking of alcohol. Gambling is also not acceptable by the Lutheran church, which practices one of the largest religions.

Business practices, ethics, values, and Laws

Business operations in Sweden are carried out professionally and could either have their physical addresses to visit, or could operate over the phone and the internet. One of the ways that businesses and businessmen popularize their business is through handing out business cards. In the organizational setting, employees are also allowed to be part of the decision making process. Through the corporate social responsibility, businesses, and organizations in Sweden are required to have a positive impact on the community and the society, the economy and the environment (Miner, Pg. 503-507). Despite many individuals globally recognizing social welfare and debt as synonymous components, the country of Sweden has proven that to be a false stereotype. As writers, Luis Buendia and Enrique Palazuelos write in their book, Economic growth, and the Welfare State: A Case Study of Sweden, “The financial model that they [Sweden] practices is one where they [Sweden] concentrates on reform in order to make conditions stable for themselves as opposed to worse.” Along with domestic success, Sweden has economic success through their global exchange and relations with other nations.

Through resources such as timber, hydropower and iron ore, Sweden has developed an export-oriented economy, not only to aid them domestically but globally as well. According to the National Debt Clock, the combination of exporting goods and their domestic welfare system has helped Sweden obtain low levels of debt, inflation and an unemployment rate of six point six percent, along with a GDP of five hundred and thirty eight Billion United States Dollars (National Debt Clock 1).

In conclusion, I had the opportunity to learn that Sweden is a very rich country in culture and they are globally ranked as one of the best countries to be in. Just as the interviewee said, Sweden’s economy is a little bit higher than the United States, yet they only need to work on that along their customer services and they will be good to go. Otherwise, Sweden is a great country and we should all learn to relate with them well.

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