Public defence: How Nordic is Scotland?

Master Laila Berg at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages will defend her dissertation "If they can do it, why can't we?" Popular Perceptions of the Nordic Region in Scotland for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD).

Doctoral candidate Laila Berg, wall with text "det humanistiske fakultet"

The recent decades have seen an increased focus on the Nordic region in Scottish political discourse. Pro-independence political actors have been eager to assert similarities to the Nordic countries, often presenting the Nordic region as an ideal and an example for Scotland’s development. But how does the Scottish public respond to the idealisation of the Nordic region in Scottish political discourse?

In her thesis, Laila Berg explores what perceptions and associations a small section of the Scottish public has of the Nordic region, in an attempt to nuance the elite-dominated study of the role of the Nordic region in contemporary Scotland. The central finding observes that awareness of the Nordic countries seems to have increased for ordinary Scots and that there is a congruence between the informal and more official perceptions of the Nordic countries.

The Nordic region seems to have become a staple within Scottish nationalist and political discourse as expressing and exemplifying an alternative, and for some, more desired, vision for Scotland. Particularly stressed are the egalitarian ethos, social democratic welfare states and progressive and inclusive policies that are seen to characterise the Nordic countries. These are also tied to dominant self-images of Scottishness. The Nordic region is made both familiar and aspirational. This dual quality is what makes the Nordic region and the Nordic argument so persuasive in Scotland.

Laila Berg successfully defended her dissertation on February 4, 2022.

Trial lecture

Designated topic: “Understanding Scottish nationalism”

Evaluation committee

Professor Nicola McEwen, University of Edinburgh (first opponent)

Professor Ewen Cameron, University of Edinburgh (second opponent)

Senior Lecturer Stuart McWilliams, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Professor Anne Birgitte Rønning


Associate Professor Atle Wold, University of Oslo

Professor Jonathan Hearn, University of Edinburgh

Published Jan. 12, 2022 4:03 PM - Last modified July 19, 2022 11:06 AM