recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : hygge   6

You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy.
"It’s the holidays, and you long to be cozy.

You want to curl up in a plush armchair next to a crackling fire. You want the softest of blankets and wooliest of sweaters. You want to devour grandma’s pecan fudge, get tipsy on eggnog with your cousins, and watch Miracle on 34th Street — mom’s favorite — for the thirty-fourth time. Or maybe neither Christmas nor family gatherings are your thing, but you like the idea of sipping hot toddies and playing board games with a few close friends while outside the snow falls and the lights twinkle.

But you can’t have it, because you couldn’t spring for a plane ticket. Or relatives are in town, but times are tight, and it seemed irresponsible to pass up the Christmas overtime pay. Maybe everything circumstantially fell into place, but you can’t relax. You’re eyeing your inbox, anxious about the work that’s not getting done. You’re last-minute shopping, pinching pennies, thinking Scrooge had some fair points. Or you’re hiding in your childhood bedroom, binge-watching television and scrolling social media, because a rare break from the pressures of daily life feels more like an occasion to zone out than to celebrate and be merry.

Either way, you feel terrible, because you know that someone somewhere is literally roasting chestnuts on an open fire, and you’re missing out.

The Danes have a word for the thing you desperately want but can’t seem to manifest: hygge.

The word isn’t easy to translate. It comes from a Norwegian word that means “wellbeing,” but the contemporary Danish definition is more expansive than that.

In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author Meik Wiking writes, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allowed to let our guard down.”

You can have hygge any time, but Danes strongly associate it with Christmas, the most hyggelig time of the year. When asked what things they associate most with hygge, Danes answered, in order of importance: hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, music, holiday, sweets and cake, cooking, and books. Seven out of ten Danes say hygge is best experienced at home, and they even have a word for it — hjemmehygge, or home hygge.

But Wiking stresses that while hygge has strong aesthetic properties, it’s more than the sum of its parts. You don’t just see it, you feel it.

“Hygge is an indication that you trust the ones you are with and where you are,” he writes, “that you have expanded your comfort zone to include other people and you feel you can be completely yourself around other people.” The opposite of hygge is alienation.

It’s no coincidence that this concept is both native to and universally understood in the same country that consistently dominates the World Happiness Report and other annual surveys of general contentment. On rare occasions when Denmark is surpassed by another country, that country is always a Scandinavian neighbor.

What makes people in these countries happier than the rest of us is actually really simple. Danes and their neighbors have greater access to the building blocks of happiness: time, company, and security.

Scandinavians don’t have these things just because they value them more, or for cultural reasons that are congenital, irreplicable, and beyond our reach. People all over the world value time, company, and security. What Scandinavians do have is a political-economic arrangement that better facilitates the regular expression of those values. That arrangement is social democracy.

The Politics of Hygge

Denmark is not a socialist country, though like its neighbor Sweden, it did come close to collectivizing industry in the 1970s. That effort was driven by “unions, popular movements, and left parties,” write Andreas Møller Mulvad and Rune Møller Stahl in Jacobin. “It was these mass forces — not benevolent elites, carefully weighing the alternatives before deciding on an enlightened mix of capitalism and socialism — who were the architects and impetus behind the Nordic model. They are the ones responsible for making the Nordic countries among the happiest and most democratic in the world.”

A strong capitalist offensive stopped this Scandinavian coalition from realizing the transition to socialism, and the legacy of their efforts is a delicate compromise. The private sector persists, but taxes are both progressive and high across the board. The country spends 55 percent of its total GDP publicly, making it the third-highest government spender per capita in the world. Meanwhile, the power of employers is partially checked by strong unions, to which two-thirds of Danes belong.

This redistributive arrangement significantly reduces the class stratification that comes from capitalism. As a result, Denmark has one of the highest degrees of economic equality in the world.

All of that public spending goes to funding a strong welfare state. Everybody pays in, and everybody reaps the rewards. This egalitarian, humane, and solidaristic model allows the values associated with hygge to flourish. It also gives people more opportunities to act on them.

In Denmark, health care is free at the point of service. Same goes for education, all the way through college and even grad school. Twenty percent of the Danish housing stock is social housing, regulated and financially supported by the state but owned in common by tenants, and organized in the “tradition of tenants’ participation and self-governance.” Denmark offers year-long paid parental leave, and guarantees universal child care for all children beginning the moment that leave ends, when the child is one year old.

Similarly, due in large part to the past and and present strength of unions, Denmark has worker-friendly labor laws and standards which make for a more harmonious work-life balance. Danes get five weeks’ paid vacation, plus an additional nine public holidays. Unlike the United States, Denmark has a national paid sick-leave policy. Denmark also has generous unemployment benefits and a wage subsidy program for people who want to work but, for reasons outside their control, need more flexible arrangements.

The normal work week in Denmark is set at thirty-seven hours, and people tend to stick to it. Only 2 percent of Danes report working very long hours. In a survey of OECD countries Denmark ranked fourth for people spending the most time devoted to leisure and personal care. (The US ranked thirtieth.)

All of this has a profound effect on individuals’ ability to experience pleasure, trust, comfort, intimacy, peace of mind — and of course, the composite of these things, hygge.

For one thing, there are only so many hours in a day. And there are some activities that make us happy, and some that make us unhappy.

The Princeton Affect and Time Survey found that the activities that make us happiest include playing with children, listening to music, being outdoors, going to parties, exercising, hanging out with friends, and spending time with pets. (These are also the activities that Danes associate with hygge.) The ones that make us least happy include paid work, domestic work, home maintenance and repairs, running errands, personal medical care, and taking care of financial responsibilities.

Everyone has to do activities in the unhappy category in order to keep their affairs in order. But it makes sense that if you take some of those responsibilities off people’s plate and design the economy to give them more time to do activities in the happy category, they will be more content and lead more enriching lives.

Many working-class Americans don’t have much time for activities in the happy category, because they work multiple jobs or long hours and also have to keep a household in order without much assistance. Many more are afraid that if they take time away from their stressful responsibilities, they will overlook something important and fall behind, and there will be no social safety net to catch them — a pervasive anxiety that creeps up the class hierarchy. This breeds alienation, not intimacy.

Additionally, working people in highly capitalist countries, where economic life is characterized by cutthroat competition and the punishment for losing the competition is destitution, tend to develop hostile relationships to one another, which is not very hyggelig.

The social-democratic model is predicated instead on solidarity: my neighbor and I both pay taxes so that we can both have a high standard of living. We care for each other on the promise that we will each be cared for. By working together instead of against each other, we both get what we need. Universal social programs like those that make up the Scandinavian welfare states are thus engines of solidarity, impressing upon people that their neighbor is not an opponent or an obstacle, but a partner in building and maintaining society.

By pitting people against each other, neoliberal capitalism promotes suspicion and animosity. This frequently maps onto social divisions and manifests as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and so on. But it also just makes people guarded and antisocial in general. People who live in social democracies are far from invulnerable to prejudice or misanthropy, but the social compact remains more likely to promote kindness, trust, and goodwill among people than neoliberal capitalism — and indeed the Danes are some of the most trusting people in the world, of friends and strangers alike.

One of these political-economic arrangements strengthens people’s connection to the fundamentals of happiness, and of hygge — time, company, and security — while the other severs it. The abundance or scarcity of these fundamentals forms the material basis of collective social life.

The Ambiance Agenda

Hygge is not just a cultural … [more]
hygge  meaganday  2018  denmark  socialdemocracy  socialism  socialsafetynet  politics  policy  happiness  comfort  us  coreyrobin  scandinavia  solidarity  wellbeing  responsibility  uncertainty  anxiety  neoliberalism  capitalism  risk  civics  qualityoflife  pleasure  multispecies  family  trust  intimacy  peaceofmind  leisure  work  labor  health  healthcare  unions  time  slow  fragility  taxes  inequality  company  security 
december 2018 by robertogreco
New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017 by Will Wiles
"With 2016 coming to an end, Will Wiles doses out his New Year's resolutions for architecture and design in 2017, which include resisting the hygge trend and finally taking responsibility for the climate.

I suggested New Year's Resolutions for architecture and design at the end of 2015, and the response was great. So, one year later, I've made some more:

1. An end to TED's glib solutionism

Consider president-elect Donald Trump's proposed wall to keep out Mexico. It was the most consistent pledge he made during his precedent-smashing election campaign. Trump admitted that it was his secret rhetorical weapon for when he sensed a crowd was getting bored: "I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts," he told the New York Times.

The wall is a strong pledge to make: it's a simple, easy-to-understand design solution to a perceived problem. It's also crass, offensive and impractical in the extreme, but that didn't matter to the target audience. They got it. They went nuts.

There was a lot of this in 2016, the year zealots of various stripes promised to sweep away the knotted, stifling problems of globalisation with no more than a wave of the tiny hand. Build the wall, make America great again, drain the swamp, vote leave, take back control.

Architecture and design, which is well populated with experts and systems-thinkers, might regard itself as being apart from all this. But, in fact, one of the throbbing nerve centres of the post-expert, hand-wave era lies closer than you might think: TED, the wildly popular talks series.

TED, of course, presents itself as a hub of expertise and intelligence. And in criticising TED, I don't mean to denigrate the vast majority of its speakers, or to imply that TED equals Trump, or anything so dim. It's the format that's the problem, and the kind of intellectual legerdemain it encourages.

TED is the golden cap of the yaddering pyramid of hackism: that every wicked problem has a nifty workaround or backdoor, that it's all got a glib little design solution that'll bypass all the waffle and the smoke, and make everything OK. Ted Everyman, outsider genius, has cracked the problem that has the eggheads stumped, and it was so simple.

Trump's wall is very TED. So is his insistence that generic "smartness" on his part means that he can do without the expert advice previous presidents have relied upon, such as intelligence briefings.

The trouble for democratic opposition to these forces is that complexity and intractability make for very unenticing messages. Even more problematic is the fact that "it's complicated, let us experts handle it" is the way the globalist managerial class has ushered in many of the problems that Trump and others now claim to have solved.

Where architecture and design might be able to make a difference in the coming months is by shunning hackism and solutionism, and demonstrating instead its remarkable ability to research, explore and expose.

2. Take personal responsibility for the climate

With Trump's administration stuffed full of climate-change deniers and oil men, concerted international state action to address the warming planet looks unlikely. Worse, existing measures, such as the Paris Agreement that came into force this year, might be in peril. American leadership isn't essential for progress on the climate, but its active obstruction and wrecking of vital research could be a disastrous setback when renewed effort is needed.

The abdication of governments from climate action serves, at least, as a reminder that they can't be relied upon to enforce change. The long-awaited economic breakthrough of renewable energy has at last arrived: solar is now the word's cheapest form of energy. Simple economic forces might now drive down carbon emissions while national governments are preoccupied. Texas, a place strongly associated with oil and gas, now gets as much as half of its electricity from wind, and is anticipating a solar boom. China may also be a source of surprises.

These are changes that may yet halt the incipient climate catastrophe: not grandiose treaty-signing, but aggregated individual decisions. Be part of it in what you make and build.

3. Health warnings for the whimsy

Another Trump-related one, sadly. Trump's victory has also sparked a debate over so-called "fake news": the growing welter of misinformation, disinformation and scurrilous falsehood online. This risks crowding out more reliable sources of information and overwhelming civil society's already overtaxed critical faculties.

Again, you might wonder what that has to do with architecture and design. But of course architecture and design has a long history of generating its own "fake news" in the form of the more fanciful speculative proposals and vapourware.

There's nothing wrong with speculation, paper architecture and design fictions, of course – they're all useful endeavours and we'd be hugely poorer without them. It suits architecture and design to propose their own forms, as well as to simply deliver the proposals of others.

Even the grubbier end of that kind of activity isn't inherently bad. Here I'm talking about the completely senseless floating lilypad cities or vertical farms that get pitched out as blog-fodder for no practical purpose than showing off a designer's rendering skills and get their name about. They probably belong on Deviantart rather than Dezeen, but no one's harmed.

Really what's needed is appropriate labelling: making it clear what is speculation for the purposes of debate, what's a real proposal that's seeking backers, what might actually have a chance of actually appearing, and what's just a bit of hey-look-at-me fun. That's where the ethics get murky. Remember that Chinese straddling bus concept that turned out to be little more than a scam? Or that kooky London Garden Bridge concept that also turned out to be little more than a scam. Whimsy can be costly, people!

But seriously, knock it off with the floating cities and the vertical farms.

4. Leave "hygge" in 2016

Financial Times critic Edwin Heathcote has already done a sterling job of debunking hygge, the ubiquitous pseudo-Scandinavian lifestyle craze. Like many ubiquitous lifestyle crazes, it's a subtle blend of total common sense (fires are nice in winter) and complete balderdash.

Anyway, it's upon us now and resistance is futile – the tie-in books have already been given as presents, and they already sit amid the Christmas wreckage of many, many living rooms. And I'm sure they look harmless enough. So it's time for a word of warning.

The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins has already shown how hygge was confected within the publishing industry. I think the part played by architecture and design has been understated, though. For a start, the sector has done much to import interest in Scandinavian lifestyles by importing lots of Scandinavian people. No one in their right mind would think this was anything other than a tremendous boon, and I can only apologise to my Scandinavian friends and colleagues for the way Britain is presently making a travesty of their culture. That, and Brexit.

Let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist
It truly has been a terrible year. Architecture – specifically, architecture publishing – was also making something of a fetish of things hygge before hygge was a thing, with its recent boom in cabins and log piles. I attribute this more to an interest in consumer survivalism, rather than Danish culture, but nevertheless "cabin porn" was very much the gateway.

Anyway, here's the warning. Already, thoughts will be turning to next year's endeavours, and fun ways to present them to the public. The eye will blearily cast around the living room for ideas. Thanks to architects from Jan Gehl to Bjarke Ingels, the Danish way of making cities is already rightly praised and emulated. But let's not do hygge urbanism. The temptation will be strong, and you must resist. No hygge placemaking. I beg of you. Just don't."

[via "These resolutions from @WillWiles are all worth considering, especially the one that equates Speculative Design and Fake News."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/815242847095951361

"There's a subtle but not so subtle difference between projects that are intended as critique, click bait, or outright hoax.

The hoax, as @bruces says, is in the territory of the Black Arts, and almost always maliciously and dangerously deployed.

I say this as someone whose proposal to launch manatees into space was reposted w/ straight seriousness by the Daily Mail & their commenters

The project, intended as critique (&, to be honest, clickbait!) was weaponized by DM, in the genre of "goofy eggheads wasting tax dollars""
ted  tedtalks  solutionism  climatechange  2016  2017  willwiles  architecture  design  hackism  government  governance  policy  economics  energy  renewableenergy  fakenews  news  media  specualtivedesign  fredscharmen  brucesterling  hoaxes  clickbait  critique  hygge  responsibility  speculation  whimsy  edwinheathcote  charlottehiggins  scandinavia  fetishes  publishing  cabinporn  bjarkeingels  jangehl  hyggeurbanism  urban  urbanism  placemaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Danish Art of Hygge - Denmark - VisitDenmark
"The Danes have a word that's hard to translate, and no foreigner can hope to pronounce, but it's as Danish as pork roast and cold beer. It's hygge, and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. The closest we can come phonetically is "hooga," if we try forming our mouths for "ee" while saying "oo." It doesn’t translate directly into any other language but we can illustrate it in action."
hygge  hyggelig  denmark  culture  copenhagen  words  meaning  definitions  language  danish  coziness  tranquility  peacefullness  definition  comfort  peacefulness 
february 2010 by robertogreco
hackwriters.com - Hyggelig - Denmark in a word - Roger Smith
"As it turned out, the peculiar difficulty of pronouncing this word (for me), the very tenseness of its articulation, belied the meaning in a curious way. That meaning involved a lack of tenseness, a determined relaxation. Dictionaries give "comfortable," "snug," "cozy," "homelike," "accommodating." "Yes," Kaja said. "It means cozy. But that’s only part of it. We want things to be hyggelig whether they are or not. We want it so much it has become nearly subconscious. So we call something hyggelig with intention sometimes and sometimes without meaning much at all, really."
words  denmark  danish  hygge  coziness  tranquility  peacefullness  hyggelig  definition  meaning  comfort  peacefulness 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Culture of Denmark - Wikipedia [points to the section on Hygge]
"One of the fundamental aspects of Danish culture is "hygge", which, although translated as "coziness" is more akin to "tranquility". Hygge is a complete absence of anything annoying, irritating, or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle, and soothing things. Hygge is often associated with family and close friends. Christmas time when loved ones sit close together with candles lit on a cold rainy night is "hygge", as is grilling a pølse (Danish sausage) on a long summer evening. These examples, although they do not precisely define "hygge", can give an English speaker an idea of a deeply valued traditional concept of Danish culture."
words  denmark  danish  hygge  coziness  tranquility  peacefullness  hyggelig  definition  meaning  comfort  peacefulness 
february 2010 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read