Njut Lagom! # 6

“A cultural ticket” to more transparent behavior.

Another phenomenon is the strict borderline between private and public live. Swedes like to divide their time exclusively between work and leisure. They also like to separate work colleagues and private friendships. A commonly used expression is “Never mix work and pleasure”.

Swedes behave differently while together with family members, other relatives and close friends. They are relatively passive in conversing outside their private sphere. One important exception to this is professional talk: many Swedes like to speak about matters where they feel safe and competent. While spending time together with family relatives is not the same, because everyone knows each other so well that there are no feelings of insecurity.  There is no reason to pose questions like “What do they think about me?” and “How can I be sure what they think of me? ‘. The silence and the slightly rigid behavior that characterizes many Swedes while their communication with strangers, is turned into friendships with a louder and above all transparent and not so conservative behavior.

During their free time and relaxation Swedes gladly take some drinks. Drinking spirits also should count as a social and psychological function in Swedish culture that reduces the individual’s fear of making a fool of himself, such as fear of saying something inappropriate. It is like having a permission to get too sentimental, too loud or excited. Nelker say it is not so much about the physiological effects of alcohol, but a “cultural ticket” to a freer and looser responsibility to socializing patterns (Nelker 1985). However drink consumption is controlled by the rule “Lagom”  – one should not drink too much or too little.


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