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Why is Norway Outside the European Union?

Norwegian National Identity and the Question of European Integration

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Gamze Tanil

This book introduces identity politics into the analysis of international relations. Through the usage of identification approaches, combined with an extensive presentation of the specific features of Norwegian nation-building, it offers a lucid account of how Norway’s history and culture shape the prism through which many Norwegians view the merits of their country’s relations with the emerging European Union.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

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1. Research Area – A Social Laboratory ‘The small nations that comprise the Scandinavian area constitute a social laboratory for the Western world.’ Walter Galenson, Labour in Norway (1949) ‘It is the ‘rooftop of the world’. Once the home of ruthless Vikings, now it is a haven of peace; once isolated off the routes of travel by land and sea, now on main air traffic lanes; once poor, now productive and prosperous beyond the average; barbarous late into European history, now an admired pattern of enlightened society. This is Scandinavia, Norden, the North’. Franklin Daniel Scott, Scandinavia (1980) Most political scientists are engaged with the politics of big powers such as American, British, and Russian politics: Nordic countries attract little interest since they are not great powers, nor are key players in the international arena. But the pearl is hidden in the shell. When examined closely it is recognized that the small and sparsely populated Nordic countries punch beyond their weight due to their enviable political and economic characteristics. First of all, they symbolize for most people ‘the countries, which stand for peace, disarmament, and coopera- tion in the international arena’ (Wæver 1992:77). Secondly, they provide lessons to other countries with their ‘mature parliamentary democracy, competitive mar- ket economy, comprehensive welfare provisions, social and environmental stand- ards, tradition of open democratic government, internationalism, and a shared preference for a free trade global economy’ (Miles 1996:7). For these reasons, researchers and scholars of Nordic politics describe the region as...

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