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Money Can't Buy Me Hygge

Danish Middle-Class Consumption, Egalitarianism, and the Sanctity of Inner Space

Jeppe Trolle Linnet

Keywords: atmosphere; consumption; egalitarianism; family; home; hygge; interiority; sociality

In this article, the style of social interaction known as hygge is analyzed as being related to cultural values that idealize the notion of 'inner space' and to other egalitarian norms of everyday life in Scandinavian societies. While commonly experienced as a pleasurable involvement in a social and spatial interior, hygge is also examined as a mode of withdrawal from alienating conditions of modernity. In spite of its egalitarian features, hygge acts as a vehicle for social control, establishes its own hierarchy of attitudes, and implies a negative stereotyping of social groups who are perceived as unable to create hygge. The idea of hygge as a trait of Scandinavian culture is developed in the course of the interpretation, and its limitations are also discussed against ethnographic evidence that comparable spatial and social dynamics unfold in other cultural contexts.

Affiliations

Linnet, Jeppe Trolle - University of Southern Denmark