Njut Lagom! # 4

Research of professor Geert Hofstede shows that Lagom is enforced in society by “Jante Law” which should keep people “in place” at all times. It is a fictional law and a Scandinavian concept, which counsels people not to boast or try to lift themselves above others. A similar phenomenon is, however, in many places in the world. In English, the term Tall poppy syndrome which means that someone who accomplished something positive is not recognized because people do not think he is worth it.

Back in 1933, Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose wrote the 10 rules of the Law of Jante in his book, “A fugitive crosses his tracks”. The rules describe a code of behavior that was specific to all small Scandinavian towns at that time: You should not be different or think that you are better than anyone else in any way, nor try to stick up. The Law of Jante has become famous in Sweden. The Swedish society has changed a lot since those times. However, there is still a certain “push” towards appropriateness and humbleness that people sometimes rebel against.

Swedish people have grown up with it and because of that they live by it, this law helps to explain their behavior. Being moderate and discreet is, in a way, part of the Swedish culture, and the “proper” way to be. Everyone needs to be good at everything, without trying to be better than others, and do just like everyone else. Being different is nothing positive. For the convenience of this equality, most Swedes have the same or similar surnames, although with some variation – Svensson, Andersson, Nilsson or Persson. This also explains why all the cottages and country houses are colored the same color – dark red.


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