Personal Utopia: The “Good Life” in Popular Religion and Literature in Contemporary Sweden

Authors

  • Daniel Enstedt Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Kristina Hermansson Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1810128

Keywords:

Medical humanities, Medicalization of society, Therapy culture, Cultural studies, Scandinavian studies, Popular religion, Popular literature

Abstract

This article examines the discourse of the “good life” in popular religion and literature in contemporary Sweden. The results indicate thnew spiritual movements (e.g. mindfulness and the Enneagram) situate traditional transcendental goals within the individual, immanent self and the utopian ideals (e.g. individual wellbeing and happiness) expressed in popular literature are to be achieved through changing individuals’ attitudes rather than their material and structural circumstances. Furthermore, this understanding of the individual relies on a culturally based discourse in which medicalized, therapeutic language, what Michel Foucault called “bio-power”, defines humanity and the human condition. This cultural discourse centers on the individual’s potential and responsibility to change dysfunctional habits, situations, and relationships, whereas structural, contextual, and situational solutions are ignored. The Swedish popular literature and religion examined here both express this discourse and constitute an important new form of authority when it comes to articulating new utopian ideals to relate to in everyday life, at work, and in family life.

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Published

2018-04-19

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Independent Articles