Sense of Community.


Community-studies have a long tradition within European Ethnology. Almost without exception they have been neglecting the strong presence of public institutions of the welfare state – despite the fact that various social security and insurance systems are such an important factor in local life. These are the offices people turn to when they are ill, require unemployment benefits, social assistance, and early retirement or disability pensions. They often provide the foundations for people to make a go of things where they live. Local communities on the other hand are not passively receiving support, but in a most intricate practice defining the actual outcome of the workings of the institutions. In this essay remuneration for illness in contemporary Sweden is used as an instrument for putting local culture in a new light. In a joint effort the macro-perspectives of political science is combined with the detailed cultural analysis of ethnology.1 Especially the emotional aspects of community-building are brought out.


community, medicalisation, health, bureaucracy, social capital, trust

How to Cite

Rothstein, B., Stensöta, H. O., Schierenbeck, I., Frykman, J., Hansen, K. & Hammarlin, M., (2009) “Sense of Community.”, Ethnologia Europaea 39(1), 7-46. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Bo Rothstein (University of Gothenburg)
Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta (University of Gothenburg)
Isabell Schierenbeck (University of Gothenburg)
Jonas Frykman (University of Lund)
Kjell Hansen (Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences)
Mia-Marie Hammarlin (Lund University)



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