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Books  >>  Sociology

Anu Partanen

The Nordic Theory of Everything

Anu Partanen The Nordic Theory Of Everything In Search Of A Better Life
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Impassioned and timely, this big think book by a Finnish journalist who is now a U.S. citizen asks Americans to consider the Nordic way of life as a means of nurturing a happier, saner, and fairer society.

AT a May 2012 conference on social mobility, where experts discussed whether people worldwide were attaining a better life than their parents', Ed Miliband, the leader of the British Labour Party, made a surprising quip: "If you want the American dream, go to Finland." For decades, the country best known for opportunity had been the United States. No longer, said Miliband.

Anu Partanen, however, had recently left Finland and moved to America for the love of her life, a man who would ultimately become her husband. Their relationship flourished, but she found that navigating the basics of everyday life--from health insurance and taxes to education and child care--was much more complicated and stressful than anything she had encountered in her homeland. At first she attributed her crippling anxiety to the difficulty of adapting to a freewheeling new culture. But as she got to know Americans better, she discovered that they shared her deep apprehensions. To understand why life in Finland is so drastically different from the way things are in the United States, Partanen began to look closely at both countries.

In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares living in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships--parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist "nanny states," revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. Step-by-step, Partanen explains that the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and equality than we do.

Partanen wants to open Americans' eyes to how much better things can be--to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore independence to our relationships and lives.


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