How did Denmark develop into one of the wealthiest countries in the world? How did it become a country with a robust welfare system and a political tradition that involves not only the governing parties in important decisions, but also the opposition parties and relevant interest organisations?
In Denmark in the World, Lars Bo Kaspersen analyses Denmark from 1815 until today. The overriding thesis of the book, inspired by Norbert Elias' notion of states as "survial units", is that a state always develops in relation to the states with which it interacts. Rather than reflecting a particular Danish mentality, the so-called “Danish model”, with its comprehensive welfare system and solutions based on political consensus, reflects the conditions of existence created by the outside environment as well as the internal response.
Throughout the book, the analysis focuses on events that have shaken Denmark and led to fundamental change. The crisis in 1864, when the Danish state was at risk of being dissolved. The two world wars and the Cold War, during which Denmark, as a small state, was forced to take a pragmatic stance in response to outside pressure. And not least the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when increasingly close European co-operation and Denmark’s involvement in the “War on Terror” produced entirely new conditions – possibly creating a crisis for the Danish tradition of political consensual solutions, civil liberties, openness, and the welfare system.
Lars Bo Kaspersen, b. 1961, is a professor of political sociology and head of the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Kaspersen’s research includes state development, state-citizen-relations, globalisation processes, the impact of war on societal development processes and change processes in welfare states. He also teaches social theory, political theory, and historical sociology.