This chapter deals with self-conceptions of exceptionalism in the United States and in Northern E ... Read more
This chapter deals with self-conceptions of exceptionalism in the United States and in Northern Europe. The notion of one nation, one region or one group being exceptional is in conflict with what globalization theory tells us. Due to the global migration of people, goods and ideas, the world is said to become more homogeneous (Appadurai 2008; Comaroff & Comaroff 2012). However, globalization comprises a globalization of risks and conflict, too (Beck 2007). The major crises of our time, which are the subject of this book, serve as examples for this seemingly unstoppable development. As contemporary Western societies are increasingly characterized by crisis and insecurity, there simultaneously seems to emerge a need for highlighting the allegedly unique features of the Self. Phrases like »American Exceptionalism« and »Nordic Exceptionalism« have been frequently applied in the political discourses of the 2000s, and are at the same time subject to a critical negotiation in literature, film and popular culture. In the following, I will investigate, how the American and the Scandinavian self-conceptions of exceptionalism impinge on each other. I will start in America. A satirical television show by American stand-up comedian Wyatt Cenac and Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom will serve as examples for contemporary artistic approaches to a certain discursive strategy, which uses images of Scandinavia and especially Sweden as a category of distinction in order to consolidate the libertarian idea of »American Exceptionalism«. The second part of the chapter is about Scandinavian visual arts’ current reevaluation of the narratives, which form the basis for notions of »Nordic Exceptionalism«. Here, I will show how Susanne Bier’s feature films Efter Brylluppet (»After the Wedding«) and Hævnen (»In a Better World«) contribute to the critical negotiation of a Scandinavian self-conception, characterized by altruism and ethical and moral superiority.
The social worker profession in Greenland has to some extent been overlooked in Greenlandic socia ... Read more
The social worker profession in Greenland has to some extent been overlooked in Greenlandic social research the last 50 years. Perhaps it is because the professionals have not had a voice in the social political debate, or it may be due to the fact that the majority of social research conducted in Greenland has a traditional approach to research as an objectifying activity. To counter-act these hypotheses, this research project is inspired by the work of Paulo Freire, modern Marxism, and critical theory. An analysis of how current working conditions and structures disempower the possibility of doing what social workers in Greenland view as good social work is followed by a discussion of how we have designed this study as a participatory action research project. Participation is about inviting social workers to collaborate with us during the project - a process we believe will result in democratic sustainable research. Moving from problem identification via participatory collaboration and on to problem solving through the transformative methodologies of focus groups and workshops, the empirical findings will guide the next steps of the research process towards creating a better understanding of social workers’ working conditions.