Call for papers/invitation for international conference in Oslo 20-21 March, 2017

This conference is organized by UiO:Nordic, a strategic initiative at the University of Oslo. UiO:Nordic intends to provide new knowledge about the Nordic countries and models, including their historical preconditions, challenges, paradoxes and opportunities for the future.

New deadline for abstracts: 28 October.

Call for papers:

There is currently a great deal of interest in ”the Nordic Model” in the international community as well as in the Nordic countries themselves. For many people “the Nordic Model” represents a formula for success where economic growth, social welfare, a highly skilled labor force and high quality of life have been successfully combined.

Most social partners and political parties within the Nordic region seem to accept or identify with the idea that the Nordic countries have a contribution to make internationally. However, there are good reasons to question some of the predominant assumptions about the Nordic countries and their experiences. Although “the Nordic Model” is often presented as a formula for success, it refers to a diversity of experiences and differences, and is also criticized for having a “dark side” and for not being as exceptional as it is often claimed.         

The aim of the conference is to provide critical perspectives on ideas related to “Nordic exceptionalism” in different spheres of society, historically and within an international context, but also to point out areas where Nordic experiences and solutions may be of use for, among other things, purposes related to social progress and social and environmental sustainability.

We invite papers with historical, interdisciplinary and international perspectives that critically examine Nordic experiences, Nordic models or constructions of ”the Nordic” in general or particular institutional fields. Information about the conference programme, the organizers, how to hand in abstracts and register for the conference, and contact information follow below.

Themes that are of particular interest for this conference are:

Renewing the Nordic model
This theme refers to the ongoing work in the research group Renewing the Nordic model. For more information on the group's research, please see the website.

As small states highly involved in international markets the Nordic countries have developed a corporatist model with emphasis on cooperation among major social partners and interests in society. Today this ”Cooperative spirit” must relate to a ruthless market competition. We invite papers that study the sustaining and renewing of the Nordic cooperative society in an increasingly competition driven world. Papers that shed light on the cultural, economic and political mechanisms of the Nordic cooperation model are particularly welcome. We are interested in explorations of the cooperative ethos in Nordic cultures and school curriculum, as well as the dynamics between cooperation and competition in business and political processes.

Nordic welfare developments
This theme refers to the ongoing work in the research group Nordic welfare developments. For more information on the group's research, please see the website.

We invite papers that deal with the emergence and structure of the Nordic welfare institutions and/or discuss to what extent these experiences may be transferred to developing countries today. In particular we are interested in gaining a better understanding of how the various Nordic models developed and what the role of politics and behavioral patterns in their development and transformations were. An exploration of such issues may teach us more about the role of alternative development models in developing countries and about the role of historical preconditions, cultural factors and institutions. To what extent should the Nordic model be viewed as a development strategy rather than as an end goal?

The Nordic public sphere in historical perspective
This theme refers to the ongoing work in the research group The Public Sphere and Freedom of Expression in the Nordic Countries, 1815-1900. For more information on the group's research, please see the website.

Constitutionally protected freedom of expression and the development of a free and open public sphere during the 19th century are important historical preconditions for openness in Nordic societies today. Consistently Nordic countries top international indexes ranking transparency, good governance and freedom of the press. The Nordic countries have different but linked historical, judicial, political, religious and cultural preconditions, and different paths to freedom of expression and an open public sphere. Papers discussing Nordic historical experiences within fields relating to the public sphere, including the trans-Nordic interaction and efforts to cultivate a Nordic public sphere, are welcome.

The making and circulation of Nordic models
This theme refers to the general interest, aims and objectives of UiO:Nordic as described in the programme notes.For more information on the programme, please contact academic director Haldor Byrkjeflot.

We welcome comparisons among the Nordic countries and reflections over to what extent the claim that the Nordic models exist in one way or the other makes sense. There is a diversity of ideas and models circulating that claim to be related to Nordic experiences and institutional innovations, for instance Nordic model of education and life-long learning, Nordic style of policy development and innovation regime.

The Nordic countries are seen as peace brokers and norm entrepreneurs with a high degree of gender equality. In public and political discourse, humanitarian engagement is commonly seen both as an inherent Nordic trait and inherently benevolent. We invite papers with critical academic focus on the welfare agents and the resettlement process.

Other themes relate to the Nordic social movements and the "creative industries"; Nordic design, literature and cuisine. Papers that address and problematize the existence of Nordic models as well as the emergence and circulation of ideas relating to such models are welcome.


Abstracts are due 28 October, 2016.

Thanks to all who have sent abstracts by 15 October! Due to requests the deadline has been postponed.


The abstracts shall:

  • Include the title of the theme it refers to.
  • Include a short summary of the main idea of your proposal. If accepted for presentation at the conference this will appear in the conference program. Absolute limit of 30 words.
  • Include a concise description of the proposal. This will be used to evaluate and place your work in the appropriate session. Recommended length 150-200 words.
  • Be written in English.

Please send abstracts to   

The abstracts will be assessed by the programme committee:

The programme committees response to the abstract will include information on how to register. Deadline for papers will be published later.


The conference will take place at the University of Oslo, in the city centre of Oslo, and is scheduled as follows:

March 20

  • 12:30-14:00 Plenary session
  • 14:30-18:00 Parallell streams

March 21

  • 09:00-12:00 Parallell streams cont.
  • The parallell streams will be followed by an afternoon plenary session where politicians, civil servants, experts in fields related to Nordic experiences and cooperation and representatives of Nordic organizations will be invited to take part.

    We are happy to announce that Richard Sennett has accepted to be keynote at this event.

For general information  about the conference , please contact:

Haldor Byrkjeflot, academic director

Inger-Johanne Ullern, senior adviser

Published July 1, 2016 3:03 PM - Last modified July 5, 2018 11:08 AM